Behaviour of migrating toads under artificial lights differs from other phases of the life cycle


During the spring migration many amphibians are being​ killed by traffic when they cross roads ​while ​they're moving to​ their​ reproduction sites. These roads are often ​illuminated by streetlamps. Many amphibians are attracted by light​ and​ therefore ​nocturnal light may increase ​the number of road casualties. ​Up until now it was unknown ​if and how streetlamps​ affect spring migration. ​We used an experimental set-up to test whether ​nocturnal ​light affect​s the migration and if the spectral composition​ of this light​ c​an mitigate ​negative ​effects.

​We found that common toads ​(Bufo bufo) ​avoided sections of roads that were illuminated with white or green light​. They did not avoid the sections with red light. By switching of the light for the second part of the night we showed that toads interrupt their m​igration when they come across ​streetlamps. ​We conclude that nocturnal light​ does​ affect​ the migratory behaviour of toads​. Light with low levels of short wavelength can be used to mitigate effects.

Vrijwilligers lichtonderzoek Amerongen Lichtonderzoek rood lichtvlak. Foto: Kris Joosten

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