An Urban Migraine: The Influence of Artificial Light at Night on Aquatic Primary Productivity
Benjamin Rubinoff will present his honors presentation on Tuesday (4/12) from 2 PM in the Heffner Teaching and Research Building Conference Room. His presentation is An Urban Migraine: The Influence of Artificial Light at Night on Aquatic Primary Productivity.
Faculty Advisor: Mazeika Sullivan
Description of research: Artificial lighting at night (ALAN), or unnatural light produced by anthropogenic sources, has drastically altered the nighttime environment and is anticipated to increase as the urban population of the planet grows and electricity expands into previously unlit areas. The prevalence and predicted increases in ALAN have prompted a growing environmental concern over light as an environmental pollutant (i.e., ecological light pollution). This novel environmental stressor has been shown to have negative effects from the individual to the ecosystem level. However, there is a gap in the research on the effects of this stressor on ecosystem function. This project examines the effects of ALAN on diatom productivity. Through a laboratory experiment, I assessed the response of a common stream diatom (Navicula pelliculosa) to common urban light levels. Overall, I found that ALAN led to decreases in diatom biomass and increases in productivity. These trends suggest that diatoms experience a physiological shift under the influences of ALAN. The outcomes of this project have implications for ecosystem processes and demonstrate the complexity of ALAN and its effects on ecosystems globally.