Zach Cravens, Veronica Brown, Timothy Divoli, Justin Boyles
Light pollution has been increasing around the globe and threatens to disturb natural rhythms of wildlife species. Artificial light impacts the behaviour of insectivorous bats in numerous ways, including foraging behaviour, which may in turn lead to altered prey selection. 2.In a manipulative field experiment, we collected faecal samples from six species of insectivorous bats in naturally dark and artificially lit conditions, and identified prey items using molecular methods to investigate effects of light pollution on prey selection. 3.Proportional differences of identified prey were not consistent and appeared to be species specific. Red bats, little brown bats, and gray bats exhibited expected increases in moths at lit sites. Beetle-specialist big brown bats had a sizeable increase in beetle consumption around lights, while tri-colored bats and evening bats showed little change in moth consumption between experimental conditions. Dietary overlap was high between experimental conditions within each species, and dietary breadth only changed significantly between experimental conditions in one species, the little brown bat. 4.Policy implications. Our results, building on others, demonstrate that bat-insect interactions may be more nuanced than the common assertion that moth consumption increases around lights. They highlight the need for a greater mechanistic understanding of bat-light interactions to predict which species will be most affected by light pollution. Given differences in bat and insect communities, we advocate biologists, land stewards, and civil planners work collaboratively to determine lighting solutions that minimize changes in foraging behaviour of species in the local bat community. Such efforts may allow stakeholders to more effectively craft management strategies to minimize unnatural shifts in prey selection caused by artificial lights. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Cravens ZM, Brown VA, Divoll TJ, Boyles JG. 2017. Illuminating prey selection in an insectivorous bat community, exposed to artificial light at night. Journal of Applied Ecology 10.1111/1365-2664.13036.