New research has found that light pollution is causing bats to go hungry across the UK. Too many streetlights are attracting insects, the food of the nocturnal creatures, but due to their nature light-sensitive nature, the animals can’t go near the lamps to feed.
Luke Romaine has been researching bat behaviour at Paignton Zoo, as part of his Biological Sciences degree on a yearlong placement. Commenting on Paignton Zoo, Romaine said, “Paignton Zoo is great for native wildlife, not just exotic species. We have a wide range of habitats, from trees to open water to grassland. At least 10 species of bat could be found foraging across the Zoo.
“We knew that light pollution was delaying their emergence from roosts and disrupting their access to food. Now we can see just what a huge impact lights are having.”
Light pollution is a serious threat to biodiversity in the UK, as Bats are the only truly flying animal and are a vital part of our ecosystem as they consume large quantity of insects. Luke Romaine has suggestions to help combat the problem,
There are plenty of management strategies aimed at keeping bat habitats connected, but we simply do not know whether most of them work. One of the most popular ideas is to establish a “dark corridor” or buffer strip of bat-friendly habitat under total darkness. We do not know how big these need to be before bats are able to use them.” “Conserving bats in a modern landscape is difficult. I believe we must strike a balance between the needs of people and the needs of wildlife. We do need to ask the question of whether lighting in some places is really necessary, but active feeding times for bats often coincide with active evening times for humans.
“We can all do our bit. Gardens can be important for wildlife if managed correctly. If we create more wild habitat we’ll give bats more places to feed, so they won't have to travel so far. Planting heather, honeysuckle, and lavender are all great ways of attracting insects to your garden, which then provide food for bats.”
For more information on Paignton Zoo and their work towards conservation, click HERE.
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