Artificial light pollution influences behavioral and physiological traits in a keystone predator species, Concholepas concholepas

Patricio H. Manríquez, María Elisa Jara, María Isabel Diaz, Pedro A. Quijón, Stephen Widdicombe, José Pulgar, Karen Manríquez, Diego Quintanilla-Ahumada, Cristian Duarte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Artificial Light At Night (ALAN) is an increasing global problem that, despite being widely recognized in terrestrial systems, has been studied much less in marine habitats. In this study we investigated the effect of ALAN on behavioral and physiological traits of Concholepas concholepas, an important keystone species of the south-eastern Pacific coast. We used juveniles collected in intertidal habitats that had not previously been exposed to ALAN. In the laboratory we exposed them to two treatments: darkness and white LED (Lighting Emitting Diodes) to test for the impacts of ALAN on prey-searching behavior, self-righting time and metabolism. In the field, the distribution of juveniles was observed during daylight-hours to determine whether C. concholepas preferred shaded or illuminated microhabitats. Moreover, we compared the abundance of juveniles collected during day- and night-time hours. The laboratory experiments demonstrated that juveniles of C. concholepas seek out and choose their prey more efficiently in darkened areas. White LED illuminated conditions increased righting times and metabolism. Field surveys indicated that, during daylight hours, juveniles were more abundant in shaded micro-habitats than in illuminated ones. However, during darkness hours, individuals were not seen to aggregate in any particular microhabitats. We conclude that the exposure to ALAN might disrupt important behavioral and physiological traits of small juveniles in this species which, as a mechanism to avoid visual predators, are mainly active at night. It follows that ALAN in coastal areas might modify the entire community structure of intertidal habitats by altering the behavior of this keystone species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-552
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2019


  • Ecology
  • Intertidal
  • Light pollution
  • Metabolism
  • Prey-searching behavior
  • Self-righting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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