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

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image of Amphibia-Reptilia

During annual spring migration in Western Europe many amphibians are killed by traffic when they cross roads moving to reproduction sites. Especially in urban settings these roads are often equipped with street lighting. The response of amphibians to this light during migration is however poorly known. Street lighting may attract migrating amphibians increasing the risk of being struck by traffic. Using experimental illumination we tested whether light affected the migration and if adjustment of the spectral composition could mitigate effects. Barriers used to catch toads and help them cross roads safely were divided in 25 meter long sections and these were illuminated with white, green or red light or kept dark. The number of toads caught in each section was counted. Common toads avoided sections of roads that were illuminated with white or green light but not red light. Street light thus affects migrating toads but not as expected and red light with low levels of short wavelength can be used to mitigate effects.

Affiliations: 1: 1PEN, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands ; 2: 2Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Wageningen, the Netherlands ; 3: 3Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Berlin, Germany ; 4: 4RAVON Reptile, Amphibian & Fish Conservation Netherlands, Nijmegen, the Netherlands ; 5: 5Philips Research, Eindhoven, the Netherlands

*Corresponding author; e-mail: mail@royvangrunsven.nl
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/content/journals/10.1163/15685381-00003081
2017-02-15
2017-10-20

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