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Grasping darkness: the dark ecological network as a social-ecological framework to limit the impacts of light pollution on biodiversity

Samuel Challéat, UMR 5602 GÉODE (Géographie de l'environnement), Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Université Toulouse - Jean Jaurès
Kévin Barré, UMR 7204 CESCO (Centre d'écologie et des sciences de la conservation), Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Sorbonne Université. Station marine Concarneau
Alexis Laforge, UMR 1201 DYNAFOR (Dynamiques et écologie des paysages agriforestiers), Université de Toulouse, Institut national de recherche pour l'agriculture, l'alimentation et l'environnement
Dany Lapostolle, UMR 6049 ThéMA (Théoriser et modéliser pour aménager), Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Université Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Magalie Franchomme, ULR 4477 TVES (Territoires, villes, environnement & société), Université de Lille, Université Littoral Côte d'Opale
Clélia Sirami, UMR 1201 DYNAFOR (Dynamiques et écologie des paysages agriforestiers), Université de Toulouse, Institut national de recherche pour l'agriculture, l'alimentation et l'environnement
Isabelle Le Viol, UMR 7204 CESCO (Centre d'écologie et des sciences de la conservation), Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Sorbonne Université. Station marine Concarneau
Johan Milian, UMR 7533 LADYSS (Laboratoire dynamiques sociales et recomposition des espaces), Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Université Paris 8 Vincennes - Saint-Denis
Christian Kerbiriou, UMR 7204 CESCO (Centre d'écologie et des sciences de la conservation), Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Sorbonne Université. Station marine Concarneau

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-12156-260115

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Abstract

Artificial light at night (ALAN) is nowadays recognized as a major anthropogenic pressure on the environment on a global scale and as such is called light pollution. Through its attractive or deterrent effects, and its disruption of the biological clock for many animal and plant taxa, ALAN is increasingly recognized as a major threat to global biodiversity, which ultimately alters the amount, the quality, and the connectivity of available habitats for taxa. Biodiversity conservation tools should, therefore, include ALAN spatial and temporal effects. The ecological network, i.e., the physical and functional combination of natural elements that promote habitat connectivity, provides a valuable framework for that purpose. Understood as a social-ecological framework, it offers the opportunity to take into account the multiple uses of nocturnal spaces and times, by humans and nonhumans alike. Here we present the concept of “dark ecological network.” We show this concept is able to grasp the effects of ALAN in terms of habitat disturbances and integrates temporal dimensions of ecological processes into biodiversity conservation planning. Moreover, it is also intended to trivialize the practices of darkness protection by turning them into the ordinary practices of land use planning. From an operational point of view, the challenge is to translate the levers for reducing ALAN-induced effects into a political method for its “territorialization.” To achieve this objective, we propose a course of action that consists of building an interdisciplinary repertoire of contextualized knowledge (e.g., impacts on wildlife, human/lightscape relationship, existing legal tools, etc.), in order to deduce from it a number of practical supports for the governance of the dark ecological network in response to societal and ecological issues.

Key words

artificial light at night (ALAN); darkness; ecological network; land-use planning; light pollution; multilevel approach; participatory processes; social-ecological systems

Copyright © 2021 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087