Artificial Light at Night is an increasing global stressor that can impact the survival, behaviour and distribution of species.

Amelia Caley is currently working as a Research Assistant at UNSW supervised by Dr. Mariana Mayer Pinto, looking at kelp conservation in collaboration with Professor Maria Byrne and Associate Professor Ziggy Marzinelli from The University of Sydney.  

The team are running an experiment in SIMS’ Ian Potter Research Aquarium to look at the effects of warming and Artificial Light At Night (ALAN) on the health and functioning of two important local seaweeds, Ecklonia radiata and Sargassum. This research is important as both seaweeds create complex habitats that support diverse and productive food webs, making them integral “ecosystem engineers”.

ALAN is a rapidly increasing global stressor that alters environments at an unprecedented pace and scale, with urbanisation exposing more than 22% of the world’s nearshore environment to ALAN.

This anthropogenic pollution can impact the survival, behaviour and distribution of species, threatening foundation species like these, with ramifications for entire ecosystems that rely on them.

However, research into its effects on marine environments has been limited. In particular, no studies have looked at the effects of ALAN on large seaweeds, which are integral to the biodiversity and functioning of temperate ecosystems.  

This experiment will test the independent and interactive effects of warming and ALAN on kelp and Sargassum growth, survival, functioning and grazing susceptibility. Their results will contribute to the growing literature on the effects of ALAN in marine environments and provide evidence to develop relevant management strategies for our local coastlines.