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Long-term exposure to artificial light at night in the wild decreases survival and growth of a coral reef fish

Abstract : Artificial light at night (ALAN) is an increasing anthropogenic pollutant, closely associated with human population density, and now well recognized in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. However, we have a relatively poor understanding of the effects of ALAN in the marine realm. Here, we carried out a field experiment in the coral reef lagoon of Moorea, French Polynesia, to investigate the effects of long-term exposure (18–23 months) to chronic light pollution at night on the survival and growth of wild juvenile orange-fin anemonefish, Amphiprion chrysopterus . Long-term exposure to environmentally relevant underwater illuminance (mean: 4.3 lux), reduced survival (mean: 36%) and growth (mean: 44%) of juvenile anemonefish compared to that of juveniles exposed to natural moonlight underwater (mean: 0.03 lux). Our study carried out in an ecologically realistic situation in which the direct effects of artificial lighting on juvenile anemonefish are combined with the indirect consequences of artificial lighting on other species, such as their competitors, predators, and prey, revealed the negative impacts of ALAN on life-history traits. Not only are there immediate impacts of ALAN on mortality, but the decreased growth of surviving individuals may also have considerable fitness consequences later in life. Future studies examining the mechanisms behind these findings are vital to understand how organisms can cope and survive in nature under this globally increasing pollutant.
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Jules Schligler, Daphne Cortese, Ricardo Beldade, Stephen E Swearer, Suzanne C Mills. Long-term exposure to artificial light at night in the wild decreases survival and growth of a coral reef fish. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Royal Society, The, 2021, 288 (1952), pp.20210454. ⟨10.1098/rspb.2021.0454⟩. ⟨hal-03727645⟩

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