Artificial light at night alters the activity and feeding behaviour of sandy beach amphipods and pose a threat to their ecological role in Atlantic Canada

K. Devon Lynn, Diego Quintanilla-Ahumada, Cristobal Anguita, Stephen Widdicombe, José Pulgar, Patricio H. Manríquez, Pedro A. Quijón, Cristian Duarte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Artificial light at night (ALAN) is a growing source of stress for organisms and communities worldwide. These include species associated with sandy beaches, which consume and process stranded seaweeds (wrack) in these ecosystems. This study assessed the influence of ALAN on the activity and feeding behaviour of Americorchestia longicornis, a prominent talitrid amphipod living in sandy beaches of Prince Edward Island, Atlantic Canada. First, two parallel field surveys were conducted to document the natural daily cycle of activity of this species. Then, three related hypotheses were used to assess whether ALAN disrupts its locomotor activity, whether that disruption lasts over time, and whether it affects the feeding behaviour and growth of the amphipods. Tanks equipped with actographs recorded amphipod locomotor activity for ~7 days and then its potential recovery (after ALAN removal) for additional ~3 days. Separate tanks were used to compare amphipod food consumptions rates, absorption efficiency and growth rates under natural daylight / night (control) and altered conditions (ALAN). The results of these manipulations provide support to two of the three hypotheses proposed and indicate that ALAN was temporarily detrimental for (i.e. significantly reduced) the surface activity, consumption rates and absorption efficiency of the amphipods, whereas growth rates remained unaffected. The results also rejected the remaining hypothesis and suggest that the plasticity exhibited by these amphipods confer them the capacity to recover their natural rhythm of activity shortly after ALAN was removed from the system. Combined, these results suggest that ALAN has a strong, albeit temporary, influence upon the abundant populations of A. longicornis. Such influence has implications for the ecosystem role played by these amphipods as consumers and processors of the subsidy of stranded seaweeds entering these ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number146568
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • Amphipods
  • Feeding
  • Light pollution
  • Mesocosm experiments
  • Sandy beach ecosystem
  • Surface activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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