University of Oulu

Elgert, C., Lehtonen, T.K., Kaitala, A. et al. The duration of artificial light defines sexual signalling in the common glow-worm. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 75, 154 (2021).

The duration of artificial light defines sexual signalling in the common glow-worm

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Author: Elgert, Christina1,2; Lehtonen, Topi K.1,2,3; Kaitala, Arja2,3;
Organizations: 1Organismal and Evolutionary Biology, University of Helsinki, PO Box 65, 00014, Helsinki, Finland
2Tvärminne Zoological Station, University of Helsinki, J.A. Palméns väg 260, 10900, Hanko, Finland
3Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, PO Box 3000, 90014, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-11-12


Artificial light at night is increasing globally, interfering with both sensory ecology and temporal rhythms of organisms, from zooplankton to mammals. This interference can change the behaviour of the affected organisms, and hence compromise the viability of their populations. Limiting the use of artificial light may mitigate these negative effects. Accordingly, we investigated whether the duration of artificial light affects sexual signalling in female glow-worms, Lampyris noctiluca, which are flightless and attract flying males to mate by emitting glow that is interfered by light pollution. The study included three treatments: no artificial light (control), 15 min of artificial light, and 45 min of artificial light. The results show that females were more likely to cease glowing when the exposure to light was longer. Furthermore, small females were more likely to cease their glow, and responded faster to the light, than larger females. These findings suggest that glow-worms can react rapidly to anthropogenic changes in nocturnal light levels, and that prolonged periods of artificial light trigger females to stop sexual signalling. Thus, limiting the duration of artificial light can mitigate the adverse effects of light pollution on sexual signalling, highlighting the importance of such mitigation measures.

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Series: Behavioral ecology and sociobiology
ISSN: 0340-5443
ISSN-E: 1432-0762
ISSN-L: 0340-5443
Volume: 75
Issue: 11
Article number: 154
DOI: 10.1007/s00265-021-03093-2
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: The work was funded by the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland (grant numbers 148370 to CE and 160603 to UC), the Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation (grant number 202000239 to CE), and the Academy of Finland (grant number 294664 to AK and TKL).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 294664
Detailed Information: 294664 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Dataset Reference: Supplementary information:
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