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Supplementary material from "Artificialilight at night decreases plant diversity and performance in experimental grassland communities"

Posted on 2023-09-15 - 15:18
Artificial light at night (ALAN) affects many areas of the world and is increasing globally. To date, there has been limited and inconsistent evidence regarding the consequences of ALAN on plant communities as well as the fitness of their constituent species. ALAN could be beneficial for plants as they need light as energy source, but they also need darkness for regeneration and growth. We created model communities composed of 16 plant species sown, exposed to a gradient of ALAN ranging from ‘moonlight only’ to conditions like situations typically found directly underneath a streetlamp. We measured plant community composition and its production (biomass), as well as functional traits of three plant species from different functional groups (grasses, herbs, legumes) in two separate harvests. We found that biomass was reduced by 33% in the highest ALAN treatment compared to the control, Shannon diversity decreased by 43% and Evenness by 34% in the first harvest. Some species failed to establish in the second harvest. Specific leaf area, leaf dry matter content and leaf hairiness responded to ALAN. These responses suggest that plant communities will be sensitive to increasing ALAN, and they flag a need for plant conservation activities that consider impending ALAN scenarios.This article is part of the theme issue ‘Light pollution in complex ecological systems’.

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Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

AUTHORS (10)

Solveig Franziska Bucher
Lia Uhde
Alexandra Weigelt
Simone Cesarz
Nico Eisenhauer
Alban Gebler
Christopher Kyba
Christine Römermann
Tom Shatwell
Jes Hines
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