Wildlife

Light Pollution Disorientates Animals

When dung beetles in South Africa are ready to roll, they pick their path with the help of the Milky Way. But our home Galaxy is becoming harder and harder to spot as light pollution brightens the night sky, The New York Times reports. Researchers tested how dung beetles responded to two types of artificial light: a single bright beacon and the dull glow a nearby city might produce. They found that both kinds disoriented the dung beetles, throwing them off their usual path, the team reports in Current Biology. When exposed to the bright light, the beetles headed toward that, and when exposed to the ambient light, they went in circles. Because many animals seem to navigate using the stars—including birds, seals, and moths—the fading of the night sky could be having similar effects on other species as well, according to the researchers.

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