CIE Seminar Series 2015 – The dark side of light – species and community level impacts of night lighting

Theresa JonesSPEAKER: Dr Theresa Jones, The Behaviour and Evolution Group, The School of BioSciences, The University of Melbourne

DATE: Friday, 6th November 2015
LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, CADET Building, Room KE1.207
TIME: 12:00 noon
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood HD3.008; and Warrnambool Campus, Room C1.13

ABSTRACT: The global increase in the radiance of artificial light at night (ALAN) is regarded as one of the most pervasive and under-appreciated forms of environmental pollution. Current ALAN levels in urban environments have been linked to changes in behaviour, reductions in individual fitness, declinesin species abundance and dramatic shifts in ecosystem composition.

One potential explanation for these biological disruptions is that ALAN lowers circulating levels of the hormone melatonin; a key regulator of day-night rhythm and a possible anti-oxidant. Melatonin is a highly conserved protein identified in all major taxonomic groups. However, most studies exploring links between ALAN, melatonin levels and changes in biological process are correlational.

We take a largely experimental approach in our research as we strive to understand the mechanisms driving the ecological impact of artificial light at night. Understanding the links between LAN intensity and spectra, levels of circulating melatonin and immune function, survival, and reproduction provides the critical foundation for the future development of sustainable urban lighting strategies.

Such strategies will need to balance the potential conflict between growing human demands for brighter night lighting and the adverse ecological effects this may promote.


  • PhD: The Institute of Zoology, London – sexual selection in lekking sandflies; fieldwork in Brazil.
  • First postdoc: Uppsala University, Sweden – workedon lekking Hawaiian Drosophila and the ruff (Philomachus pugnax); fieldwork on Gotland (island on the east coast of Sweden) and on Maui in Hawaii.
  • 2001 – Royal Society Travel Fellowship – Melbourne University (one year only; l honestly meant to return to the UK) looking at age related male mating success in the hide beetle; no fieldwork, I was stuck in a basement in zoology with no window.
  • Then series of postdocs with Mark Elgar – spiders, zeus bugs and beetles; fieldwork in Cairns, Euroa and Shepparton.
  • Lecturer since 2011.
  • About four years ago – moved into ecological light pollution which is where the majority of my group now works and the others get bored of us talking about it!

Appointments with guest speaker may be made via John Endler.

External visitors – wish to join us and connect to our seminars?
The following link details how to connect: link me to seminar (Seminar conference ID 36958). By entering the conference ID and clicking submit the page will generate the required information for external staff/visitors to dial in.

Please note that connection is only available while a seminar is taking place. See exact times at the top of this page.