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The effects of light pollution on navigating animals

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, January 06, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Both insect and spider biodiversity are decreasing worldwide. While their terrestrial ecosystems are being damaged by numerous human activities such as agricultural intensification, urbanization, and climate change, sensory pollutants such as light and sound are further intensifying population declines.

Light pollution is a global threat; sky glow, light trespass, spatial, temporal and spectral changes have all been shown to cause disruptive and detrimental impacts on the ecology of animals. However, the effects of light pollution are under-studied, and in many cases, under-estimated. For both insects and spiders, work has generally focussed on changes to assemblage composition, effects on invertebrate fluxes and impacts on predator-prey interactions. Forinvertebrates that migrate or that navigate when foraging, an important gap in our current knowledge exists around energetic and physiological impacts and we lack direct measures of changes in individual fitness. In this PhD, two groups of nocturnal animals with contrasting ecologies provide ideal and underexploited systems: Long distance migratory moths and central-place foraging ground spiders.

Funding Notes

This is a competition funded project through the NERC GW4+ DTP. There is a competitive selection process. This studentship will cover fees, stipend and research costs for UK students and UK residents for 3.5 years.

The successful candidatewill be interested in animal behaviour, sensory ecology and the effects of global change. Applicants will have astronginterestinlearning new techniques, from light measurementsto molecular analysis and field work.


Longcore, Travis, and Catherine Rich. "Ecological light pollution."Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment2, no. 4 (2004): 191-198.Gaston, K.J., Bennie, J., Davies, T.W. and Hopkins, J., 2013. The ecological impacts of nighttime light pollution: a mechanistic appraisal.Biological reviews,88(4), pp.912-927.Macgregor, C.J., Pocock, M.J., Fox, R. and Evans, D.M., 2015. Pollination by nocturnal Lepidoptera, and the effects of light pollution: a review.Ecological entomology,40(3), pp.187-198.Gaston, K.J., Davies, T.W., Nedelec, S.L. and Holt, L.A., 2017. Impacts of artificial light at night on biological timings.Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics,48, pp.49-68.

How good is research at University of Bristol in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 64.60

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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