Endogenous cycles, activity patterns and energy expenditure of an intertidal fish is modified by artificial light pollution at night (ALAN)

José Pulgar, Danae Zeballos, Juan Vargas, Marcela Aldana, Patricio Manriquez, Karen Manriquez, Pedro A. Quijón, Stephen Widdicombe, Cristobal Anguita, Diego Quintanilla, Cristian Duarte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


The increase of global light emissions in recent years has highlighted the need for urgent evaluation of their impacts on the behaviour, ecology and physiology of organisms. Numerous species exhibit daily cycles or strong scototaxic behaviours that could potentially be influenced if natural lighting conditions or cycles are disrupted. Artificial Light Pollution at Night (ALAN) stands for situations where artificial light alters natural light-dark cycles, as well as light intensities and wavelengths. ALAN is increasingly recognized as a potential threat to biodiversity, mainly because a growing number of studies are demonstrating its influence on animal behaviour, migration, reproduction and biological interactions. Most of these studies have focused on terrestrial organisms and ecosystems with studies on the effects of ALAN on marine ecosystems being more occasional. However, with the increasing human use and development of the coastal zone, organisms that inhabit shallow coastal or intertidal systems could be at increasing risk from ALAN. In this study we measured the levels of artificial light intensity in the field and used these levels to conduct experimental trials to determine the impact of ALAN on an intertidal fish. Specifically, we measured ALAN effects on physiological performance (oxygen consumption) and behaviour (activity patterns) of “Baunco” the rockfish Girella laevifrons, one of the most abundant and ecologically important intertidal fish in the Southeastern Pacific littoral. Our results indicated that individuals exposed to ALAN exhibited increased oxygen consumption and activity when compared with control animals. Moreover, those fish exposed to ALAN stopped displaying the natural (circatidal and circadian) activity cycles that were observed in control fish throughout the experiment. These changes in physiological function and behaviour could have serious implications for the long-term sustainability of fish populations and indirect impacts on intertidal communities in areas affected by ALAN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-366
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • ALAN
  • Artificial light pollution
  • Endogenous activity
  • Intertidal fish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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