Tag Archives: Participatory BuioMetria

BMP Interview #6: Elena Maggi

Here we are with Elena Maggi, post-doctoral fellow at the Department of Biology of the University of Pisa:

Q: How did your involvement in the topic of light pollution start?

A: My first “encounter” with the topic of light pollution research was in Rome, Italy, in September 2015. This was during the joint conference of the European Ecological Federation (EEF) and the Italian Society of Ecology (SItE), that included a whole session dedicated to this topic, with very interesting presentations showcasing research mostly on terrestrial habitats.
At the same time, the light pollution maps presented clearly showed a strong impact on coastal areas. Since my research is focused on the ecology of rocky shore assemblages, I asked myself: why did no-one ever considered the possible effects of this source of stress on marine coastal organisms?

Elena Maggi (left) with Chiara Mintrone (right), in their experimental site in 2015-2016.

I immediately discussed the issue with some colleagues at the conference, and they welcomed my idea of starting to work on this topic. I eventually came to learn of the Buiometria partecipativa, which led to a formal collaboration with Pibinko.org and to set up our first manipulative experiments on the effects night light pollution on rocky shore intertidal organisms in Italy. I must admit that the “nocturnal” approach to data collection has been a way to appreciate even more my research activity, and an opportunity to collect observations from a new viewpoint, i.e. that of nocturnal life of coastal organisms. We should not forget that observation is at the foundation of the experimental approach!

Q: Your University of recently started a funded project to study light pollution effects in the field of ecology: could you describe the working group and the objectives of this project?

A: The project is called “Emerging impacts: effects of night light pollution on coastal biodiversity and ecosystem functioning” and it is funded by the University of Pisa.
The working group is composed by researchers and professors from the Department of Biology, studying marine ecology (Prof. L. Benedetti-Cecchi, Prof. F. Bulleri), genetics (Prof. R. Scarpato), botanics (Dott. A. Andreucci), plant physiology (Prof. F. Licausi) and ethology (Dott. D. Giunchi).
The project started in April 2017 and will have a duration of two years. It has three main goals:

  1. identify a relationship between biodiversity and night light pollution on coastal habitats;
  2. quantify the effects of night light pollution on biodiversity through manipulative experiments in the field and under laboratory conditions;
  3. identify possible interactions between light pollution and other sources of stress (e.g. UV radiations and warming of shallow sea water).

For this purpose, we envisage monitoring activities of coastal organisms at sites characterized by varying degrees of light pollution, as well as manipulative experiments in the field and in the laboratory. In particular, experiments will focus on effects of light pollution on algae and invertebrates inhabiting rocky shores, seagrass (Posidonia oceanica), freshwater microalgae, yeasts and coastal birds (e.g. seagull). The overarching aim of the project is that of unveiling processes and molecular, physiological or ecological mechanisms behind the effects of light pollution, as a tool to identify local actions able to minimize the effects of light pollution, as well as possible synergies with other sources of stress, which are more difficult to manage.

Q: What activities have you planned for this Summer?
A: We will focus on monitoring, in collaboration with the Biometeorology Institute of the National Research Council and the BuioMetria Partecipativa project. With these partners we have planned a Summer campaign focusing on measurements taken along the Tuscan coast combining citizen science observations. I will be one of the citizens, but -most of all- we have some students from the master in Marine Biology from the University of Pisa who volunteered after attending a seminar we organised on May 16. Also, monitoring of marine biodiversity will be conducted at some of the sites where the levels of light pollution have been evaluated. With the July new Moon we expect to collect a first batch of Posidonia oceanica samples in locations characterized by varying levels of night lighting. These samples will be subject to our initial molecular analyses within our University project. The data collected during the Summer will represent a quantitative baseline for the experiments which will follow, in the field and in our lab.

BMP Interview #5: Rod E. Mc Connell

Rod E. Mc Connell, Canadian, President of the Alberta Dark Sky Association, tells us about his experience, starting from the Edmonton area, and gradually reaching wider horizons.

Q: How did your involvement with the light pollution issue start?
A: My involvement with light pollution began over fifty years ago when I entered university.
At home in the country my beloved night skies were studded with brilliant stars but, in the city of Edmonton, their numbers were dramatically reduced. In 1963 or ’64, I wrote to city council complaining of the light pollution which blocked my view of the heavens.
However, 1960’s society was not ready for lessons in energy conservation or light waste,
trespass and pollution (Light-WTP). The curt letter I received emphasized the City knew
what it was doing and did not need the recommendations of some kid from the country.
There were even derogatory comments in the local newspaper regarding my concerns.
In November 2009, at my nature preserve 150 km northeast of Edmonton, I really
became aware of how light pollution from Edmonton and area had increased over the years.

An Edmonton taxpayer, I decided to take on the city. Determined to save my dark skies, reduce this waste and cut light pollution, I gathered information on light waste, its costs and its effects. I also formed a group and invited other interested people from
different backgrounds to join the “Alberta Dark Sky Association,” a loose association of
professionals who had similar objectives.
Realizing that we would never win the battle with the City over “light pollution,” I
strongly recommended that we create a program which would emphasize reduced
light/energy waste while reducing costs, improving city lighting, citizen and
environmental health, all items city council should find attractive. I proposed that we call
the initiative the “Light-Efficient Community” program (copyrighted.) This phrase
describing our goal could then be quickly, easily and positively understood by all and
greeted with approval rather than fear or anger.
A Light-Efficient Community (LEC) is one that uses lighting intelligently and
responsibly. It uses the most effective, efficient artificial lighting available to minimize
energy waste, glare, light trespass and light pollution. A Light-Efficient Community
employs sound planning, designs, measures, legislation, fixtures, technologies and
good lighting practices to reduce its energy costs and carbon footprint while preserving
the natural environment and ensuring health, safety, security and a high quality of life
for all.
Prime Principle:
Light only what needs to be lit only when it needs to be lit with the most efficient light
source of appropriate intensity and colour without creating direct light trespass on
neighboring properties and the night sky. Keep your light to yourself!
This initiative eventually met with council approval and the Edmonton “Light-Efficient Community Policy” was adopted August 21st, 2013. We are in the process of making changes to streetlighting and will shortly begin work on “Phase 2 – Exterior Community Lighting” and a “LEC Educational Program.”
We have and continue to consult with other communities in creating and adopting the
LEC program throughout Alberta and elsewhere. Our work extends far beyond Edmonton
and encompasses communications and efforts to reduce Light-WTP on an international
basis. To assist in these efforts, I have created a web site
which offers a short course and many resources for the LEC advocate. I am also currently
producing a film (“Demons in the Light”) which will help educate all sectors of the
communities in which advocates work. (Useful modules from the film are now available
on Youtube.com. – Search for “Light-Efficient Communities)

Q: Is the Alberta Dark Sky Association (ADSA) affiliated to the International Dark Sky
Association, or is it an independent operation?

A: The ADSA is a completely separate organization from the International Dark Sky
Association though several of our members also carry IDA memberships.

Q: When was the ADSA created? How many members does it have?
A: The ADSA was created in 2009. Members: Our number of associates approximates 100
with anyone having an interest in Light-WTP welcome.

BMP Interviews #4: Davide Dominoni

Davide: introduce yourself…
My name is Davide Dominoni, a postdoctoral researcher affiliated with the Netherlands Institute of Ecology in Wageningen, the Netherlands, and the University of Glasgow in Scotland. My background is in Natural Sciences and Conservation Biology. After my Master’s degree at the University of Parma, Italy, I left my home country and worked as research and field assistant in Ireland and Australia before moving to Germany to start my PhD.
How did you get involved in light pollution studies?
It started with my PhD in Germany. I was always interested in anthropogenic impacts on wildlife, and I knew I wanted to do a PhD related to urban ecology. When I saw the job offer for a PhD on the eco-physiological effects of light pollution in the European blackbird, I thought it would have been an excellent opportunity to develop my interests.
Could you tell us a little about the scope of your research, and your most relevant findings to date?
My research integrates two main concepts. First, light is the most potent environmental factor that regulates the rhythms of life, because it signals when is the right time to be awake, to forage or to sleep, and it also indicates daylength, thus whether it is summer or winter, for instance. Light has therefore profound effects on the behaviour and physiology of virtually all organisms. Examples are daily rhythms of singing behaviour of birds or the up and down movement of leaves on plants, and the migration of millions of animals that happens at specific times of the year. Second, because organisms have adapted to these natural light/dark cycles, they have developed physiological and molecular mechanisms to synchronise to such cycles and even anticipate them. My research started from a simple hypothesis: if organisms tune their behaviour and physiology to natural light/dark cycles, then light pollution should affect such processes because it can disrupt such cycles.
In order to test this hypothesis, I first had to demonstrate that wild animals are exposed to light pollution in the first place. This is not trivial: animals move and can easily seek and hide in dark places to avoid light. To this scope I used tiny light loggers are deployed them on wild European blackbirds that were breeding in the city of Munich, in Germany, and in a nearby dark forest. Birds in the city were exposed to much higher light at night than the forest cousins, but the light intensity was still quite low if compared to the brightness of street lamps. Thus, the next question was whether such relatively low levels of light could impact the blackbirds behaviour and physiology. To answer this I brought city and forest birds to the laboratory and exposed to the same levels of light at night that I recorded in the field, to rule out any other confounding variables that may co-vary with light in the city, such as noise and temperature. What I found was impressive: birds exposed to light levels 20 times lower than the intensity of a typical street lamp bred 1 month earlier and show twice as much nocturnal activity than birds exposed to a dark, forest-like night.
Although these results were strong and intriguing, at the end of the PhD I was left with an important question: is light pollution bad, good, or neutral for birds? To solve this dilemma I had to integrate different approaches from different fields of research.

First, I used molecular techniques to understand what biochemical pathways were altered by light pollution, and what we know about such pathways. I found strong effects on pathways related to stress and cognitive function, suggesting that light pollution has to power to fundamentally altered processes that are now to be link to survival and reproductive success. Second, I went back to the field to understand what the long-term effects of light pollution are on the fitness of wild birds. This is an ongoing, 7-year project that is a part of a large initiative called “Light on Nature”. It is a Dutch project were street lamps of different colours are mounted in several different forests across the Netherlands. My own research looks at long-term physiological changes in the songbird Great tit. This species breeds in nest-boxes, which makes it ideal to recapture the same bird several times to obtain physiological samples, but also to look at age-related changes in reproductive success and survival, what we called “senescence”. I hope that this will better inform both science and policy-makers about the long-term effects of light pollution, as well as indicate what type of light colour might mitigate such effects, which is a very important issue as the current trend is to replace the old Tungsten lamps with LED lights.



To what extent your findings on birds may help to understand effects on humans?
My research has profound implications for human health too, as we are becoming more and more a 24-h society where we are constantly exposed to light. This is known to be a problem for human health, but studies on humans are mostly correlative, and the use of laboratory models such as mice and rats can only partially solve the problems because they are nocturnal animals. Birds are diurnal and warm-blooded, like us, they live in cities and show strong responses to light pollution. Plus, it is relatively easy to study them both in the wild and in the lab, making it easy to obtain several samples from the same animal or to follow it for its entire life, which is helpful if we want to really grasp the long-term effects of light pollution.

The BuioMetria CORDILIT station restarts its measurements under the Sassoforte

The BuioMetria Partecipativa project, in addition to managing a pool of sky quality meters which are borrowed by citizens in all of Italy, also owns a monitoring station with a logger. This can be deployed in any (enclosed) site and will record time series of data. The sensor is part of the Italian Coordination for the collection of light pollution data (i.e. Coordinamento Italiano per la raccolta dati sull’inquinamento luminoso or CORDILIT). Since 2011, CORDILIT receives data from sensors in various Italian regions.

The BMP sensor was first installed in 2014 above Torniella, in the Farma Valley in a location named “Il Colle“. In 2015 the sensor was removed and spent some time at Politecnico di Milano for some tests. A few weeks ago we brought the instrument back home and just a couple of days ago it was re-deployed in the hills. During the Winter the sensor will be staying by the pool of  Villa San Martino , with the owner, Fabio Bartalucci. The senso will be taking measurement just under the  Sassoforte , and will enjoy with Fabio the view towards the sea and part of the Tuscan archipelago, while we roam through frosty hills and foggy plains to promote the project.

For more information on BuioMetria Partecipativa or CORDILIT: buiometria@attivarti.org

Fabio Bartalucci con la sua livella al termine dell’installazione della stazione buiometrica.

A summary of experiences from Italy in the Loss of the Night Network

The “Loss of the Night” project, funded by the EU COST programme, terminated its four years of activity at the end of October.

This article provides a brief summary of the project and of its relations to Italy.

Some context

nspow_0002_giussani_sgalganoArtificial light at night, if used in excess or inappropriately, will generate light pollution, which represents an issue for its negative effects on human health, fauna, flora, landscape, and energy consumption.
This issue can be controlled without compromising the need for illumination for security and life at night.
From this standpoint, guidelines and regulations have been established, for the reduction of light pollution. These have historically spawned from the experience of lighting engineers and astronomers (who were the first community, back in the early 20th century, to perceive the effect of light pollution on their observations). Much progress has been made in this field, especially in the past 10-15 years. However, the overall understanding of cause-effect relations between artificial light at night and the surrounding environment (and, thus, the definition of effective strategies to reduce light pollution) has yet to be attained.

The European Network

Loss of the Night started four years ago with the idea of connecting technicians and researcher interested in evaluating the effects of artificial light at night in an interdisciplinary context. This trend was already visible in several research initiatives, but was not until then structured in an international project.

Attivarti.org was invited to participate to the Loss of the Night Network since its first steps, given the experience we had developed in outreach, monitoring and citizen science with the della BuioMetria Partecipativa and CORDILIT projects.

Since February 2013 Attivarti.org operated as the primary representative of Italy in the LoNNe management committee, and was joined by the Italian National Research Council Institute of Biometeorology, base in Florence, in 2014.


The Loss of the Night network saw the participation of about 40 organisations from 18 countries, facilitating the exchange of knowledge across experts from numerous disciplines: a core of ecologists and physicists, together with chronobiologists, statisticians, sociologists, natural reserve managers, and lighting engineers, just to mention some of the expertise.


Among other outcomes, the Loss of the Night network helped to

  • Create a literature database on the effects of artificial light at night
  • Define guidelines on light at night
  • Hold conference, primarily creating the “Artificial Light at Night” series, as well as workshops, courses and outreach events
  • Organize scientific missions. The main one was a four-year intercomparison campaign, allowing the joint testing of various sensors and technologis for night sky quality monitoring. The 2015 edition of the campaign was held in Tuscany, with measurements taken in the Farma Valley and Sesto Fiorentino.

Italy and LoNNe

The participation in the Loss of the Night helped Attivarti.org to establish new contacts also at the national level.

In the research arena, in addition to the above mentioned collaboration with the Institute of Biometeorology (which installed some night sky brightness sensors and started observations on the effects of nocturnal lighting on trees in Florence), at the end of 2015 we started a collaboration with the Department of Biology and the University of Pisa, with studied on the effect of light pollution on marine ecology. We also had initial contacts with researchers in Trento, Bologna, Venice, and Milano, and had a chance to meet young Italian researchers currently working abroad.

Concerning outreach, Attivarti.org hosted some interns from the Scuola Superiore di Mediazione Linguistica in Pisa, for the translation of interviews and other material in English and Spanish.

We gave lectures in Portugal and Catalunya to present the issue of artificial light at night and our experiences in the BuioMetria Partecipativa project in architecture and design schools, and also presented our work from Italy at the ALAN conferences in Leicester, UK, and Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and at the Balkan Lighting conference in Athens, Greece.

Finally, we launched a series of short interviews, pubblished in Italian and English, to give voice to lesser known subjects (young researchers, civil servants, activists) who are committed in the study and the mitigation of light pollution.

An excerpt of the new world atlas of night sky brightness (Falchi et al., 2016). The colour scale from black to white is related to light pollution. In areas with colour from black to green the night sky is of good quality.

During these four years, we have not interrupted our activities on BuioMetria Partecipativa, with data collection and events in various locations in Italy, and with our contribution to the CORDILIT monitoring network.


With the formal part of the Loss of the Night project now over (thanking once more the coordinators for inviting us back in 2012), we maintain the relationships developed during the project and the interest in continuing our activities of protection and promotion of the night sky. Our primary area of interest is Southern Tuscany, where the BuioMetria Partecipativa project started in 2008, but we are always interested to establish connections with other regions in Italy and the rest of the globe.



For more information: buiometria@attivarti.org

Nightscape: San Galgano Abbey (Siena), Federico Giussani

Not all lamps are the same

A brief yet explanatory video by the Premiumlight EU project. You will see the characteristics of different types of existing lamps.

You may recall that, from the standpoint of artificial light at night effects:

– light sources which are too intense and poorly oriented may cause glare

– lights with a high correlated colour temperature (a threshold has not been defined, but many researcher concur with 3500-4000K) have higher emissions in the blue part of the spectrum and, hence, stronger effects on health (Melatonin suppression, shifting of sleeping time, and other effects currently under investigation).

Kudos to Laurent Canale for pointing out the video

Outdoor artificial light at night, obesity, and sleep health: Cross-sectional analysis in the KoGES study

Yong Seo Koo Department of Neurology, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea, Jin-Young Song, Eun-Yeon Joo, Heon-Jeong Lee, Eunil Lee, Sang-kun Lee & Ki-Young Jung
Pages 301-314 | Received 11 Aug 2015, Accepted 14 Jan 2016, Published online: 07 Mar 2016

Download citation http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/07420528.2016.1143480


Obesity-waist circumference.svgObesity is a common disorder with many complications. Although chronodisruption plays a role in obesity, few epidemiological studies have investigated the association between artificial light at night (ALAN) and obesity. Since sleep health is related to both obesity and ALAN, we investigated the association between outdoor ALAN and obesity after adjusting for sleep health. We also investigated the association between outdoor ALAN and sleep health. This cross-sectional survey included 8526 adults, 39–70 years of age, who participated in the Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study. Outdoor ALAN data were obtained from satellite images provided by the US Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. We obtained individual data regarding outdoor ALAN; body mass index; depression; and sleep health including sleep duration, mid-sleep time, and insomnia; and other demographic data including age, sex, educational level, type of residential building, monthly household income, alcohol consumption, smoking status and consumption of caffeine or alcohol before sleep. A logistic regression model was used to investigate the association between outdoor ALAN and obesity. The prevalence of obesity differed significantly according to sex (women 47% versus men 39%, p < 0.001) and outdoor ALAN (high 55% versus low 40%, p < 0.001). Univariate logistic regression analysis revealed a significant association between high outdoor ALAN and obesity (odds ratio [OR] 1.24, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.14–1.35, p < 0.001). Furthermore, multivariate logistic regression analyses showed that high outdoor ALAN was significantly associated with obesity after adjusting for age and sex (OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.14–1.37, p < 0.001) and even after controlling for various other confounding factors including age, sex, educational level, type of residential building, monthly household income, alcohol consumption, smoking, consumption of caffeine or alcohol before sleep, delayed sleep pattern, short sleep duration and habitual snoring (OR 1.20, 95% CI 1.06–1.36, p = 0.003). The findings of our study provide epidemiological evidence that outdoor ALAN is significantly related to obesity.

Image by VictovoiOpera propria, Pubblico dominio, Collegamento

Article fished from the ALAN Research literature database

Melatonin: a possible link between the presence of artificial light at night and reductions in biological fitness

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences

Full article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098%2Frstb.2014.0122

Marzo 2015

Therésa M. Jones *, Joanna Durrant, Ellie B. Michaelides, Mark P. Green

* Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, 3010 VIC, Australia

The mechanisms underpinning the ecological impacts of the presence of artificial night lighting remain elusive. One suspected underlying cause is that the presence of light at night (LAN) supresses nocturnal production of melatonin, a key driver of biological rhythm and a potent antioxidant with a proposed role in immune function. Here, we briefly review the evidence for melatonin as the link between LAN and changes in behaviour and physiology. We then present preliminary data supporting the potential for melatonin to act as a recovery agent mitigating the negative effects of LAN in an invertebrate. Adult crickets (Teleogryllus commodus), exposed to constant illumination, were provided with dietary melatonin (concentrations: 0, 10 or 100 µg ml−1) in their drinking water. We then compared survival, lifetime fecundity and, over a 4-week period, immune function (haemocyte concentration, lysozyme-like and phenoloxidase (PO) activity). Melatonin supplementation was able only partially to mitigate the detrimental effects of LAN: it did not improve survival or fecundity or PO activity, but it had a largely dose-dependent positive effect on haemocyte concentration and lysozyme-like activity. We discuss the implications of these relationships, as well as the usefulness of invertebrates as model species for future studies that explore the effects of LAN

Photo CC BY-NC by me’nthedogs on Flickr

Article fished from the ALAN research literature database

The first night sky quality monitoring campaign by the Museum of vine and wine in Roccastrada, Tuscany

mdvedvFollowing the June 30, event about protection and promotion of the night sky at the Museum of Vine and Wine in Roccastrada, Southern Tuscany, the BuioMetria Partecipativa project left on site one of their sky quality meters.

At the end of the presentation, the Municipality agreed to turn of the public lighting in the central part of the village, in order to take some initial measurements of night sky quality.

bmp_roccastrada_201610The sensor was subsequently made available to guests and staff of the Museum. We had to wait for the Summer hustle-bustle to wind down, but it was then possible for the Museum’s team to take measurements during September and October in various parts of the village, thus expanding the  BuioMetria Partecipativa database. In addition to identifying some new sampling points, repeated measurements were taken on different days, so as to consolidate the readings.

Kudos to  Andrea, Laura, Cinzia, and Paola for this collaboration, hoping that the exercise may be replicated, and that the campaign may suggest a more aware approach to artificial light at night.

For more information: buiometria@attivarti.org


Artificial night lighting rather than traffic noise affects the daily timing of dawn and dusk singing in common European songbirds

Behavioral Ecology, 5 (25), 1037-1047, 2014

Arnaud Da Silva, Jelmer M. Samplonius, Emmi Schlicht, Mihai Valcu and Bart Kempenaers

Department of Behavioural Ecology and Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Eberhard-Gwinner-Strasse, 82319 Seewiesen, Germany

Birds of Sweden 2016 37.jpgIt is well established that artificial night lighting can influence animal orientation, but there is less information about its effects on other behaviors. Previous work suggested that light pollution can affect both seasonal and daily patterns of behavior. The aim of our study was to investigate the effects of artificial night lighting and daytime traffic noise on the timing of dawn and dusk singing in 6 common songbirds. We recorded singing behavior in 11 nonurban plots: 2 plots with light, but no noise, 3 with light and noise pollution, 3 with noise, but no light, and 3 undisturbed forests. Our results show that artificial night lighting, but not noise, leads to an earlier start of dawn singing in 5 out of 6 species, ranging on average from 10min for the song thrush to 20min for the robin and the great tit. This effect was strongest at higher light intensities. We further show that dusk song is also affected: 3 species continued dusk singing for longer in lighted areas, but the effect was smaller than that observed for dawn song (from about 8min for the blackbird to 14min for the great tit). For all species, onset and cessation of singing changed relative to sunrise and sunset with the progress of the season. Rain delayed the onset of singing at dawn and advanced the cessation at dusk. We discuss the implications of our findings in the context of sexual selection.

Photo by Bengt NymanOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Article fished at the ALAN research literature database