Light Pollution - Messing Up How Plants And Trees Grow
Illuminating the streets and parks at night is one good idea, but people should be mindful of the thing called light pollution. As it can cause harm to humans, so does to plants and trees as well. In fact, it causes undesirable effects on their growth and development.
Jaya MckeownMar 21, 20231 Shares380 Views
Light pollutionis a phenomenon that occurs when artificial light sources emit excessive and unnecessary light into the environment.
This type of pollution can have negative effects on both humans and the natural world, including plants and trees.
While some plants may benefit from light pollution, many others can be negatively impacted by the overexposure to artificial light.
Learn more about this phenomenon and how it can be harmful to plants and trees.
Light pollution can have a number of negative effects on the environment, wildlife, human health and safety, and the ability to observe the stars and other celestial objects.
Here are some of the effects of light pollution:
a. Disrupts natural ecosystems
Light pollution disrupts natural ecosystems by altering the behavior and biological rhythms of animals, birds, and insects.
It can interfere with breeding, migration, and feeding patterns, which can ultimately impact the survival of these species.
b. Wastes energy
Light pollution wastes energy and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions (these causes global warming and climate change), as a significant portion of outdoor lighting is unnecessary or poorly designed.
c. Affects human health
Exposure to artificial light at night can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and the body’s internal clock.
This disruption of the natural sleep-wake cycle can lead to sleep disorders, mood disorders, and other health problems.
d. Affects astronomy
Light pollution obscures the stars and other celestial objects in the night sky, making it difficult for astronomers to observe and study the universe.
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Light pollution can have significant effects on the seasonal rhythms of plants and trees.
Seasonal rhythms refer to the changes that occur in plants and trees throughout the year as a result of seasonal variations in the environment.
These changes can have a significant impact on the growth, reproduction, and survival of plants and trees.
They are related to variations in the following:
quality of light
Excessive artificial light at night can disrupt seasonal rhythms.
Yuyu Zhou, an associate professor of Environmental Science at Iowa State University, shared through The Conversationwhat he and his colleagues discovered in their study:
We found that artificial light alone advanced the date that leaf buds broke in the spring by an average of about nine days compared to sites without nighttime lights.- Yuyu Zhou
In general, we found that the more intense the light was, the greater the difference.- Yuyu Zhou
Plants and trees use a process called photoperiodism to determine when to flower, fruit, or shed their leaves.
Photoperiodism is the response of an organism to changes in the duration of daylight, and it is critical for regulating the timing of important developmental stages in plants and trees.
However, light pollution can disrupt photoperiodism by altering the natural light-dark cycle.
For example, streetlights and other forms of artificial light can extend the length of daylight. This leads to confusion in plants and trees that rely on the natural duration of daylight to trigger seasonal changes.
It can result in delayed or early:
flowering (like what Zhou said)
leaf senescence (the natural process by which a leaf gradually deteriorates and ultimately dies)
In addition, light pollution can also alter the quality of light that plants and trees receive.
For example, blue light is important for leaf expansion and development, while red light is crucial for flowering.
Light pollution can interfere with these processes by altering the spectrum of light that plants and trees receive, leading to growth and development abnormalities.
Seventeen round white lights hanging from the branches of a tree, with boxes of gifts underneath it