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

in Amphibia-Reptilia
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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.

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

in Amphibia-Reptilia



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    A schematic representation of the setup with barriers, buckets (pale green circles) and four light treatments (red light, green light, no light and white light). The arrow indicates the direction of migration. The order of the treatments was randomised over the nights and the order depicted here is merely an example. This figure is published in colour in the online version.

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    Spectral composition of the used lamps in milliwatts per nm. This figure is published in colour in the online version.

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    The mean number of toads caught per night, per bucket is given for every light treatment. Data are presented both for animals caught in the evening with the illumination turned on and the animals caught in the morning, i.e. after the light was turned off. Letters indicate significant contrasts in GLMMs and whiskers are standard deviations based on 10 000 sample bootstrapping.


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