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Data from: Short- and mid-wavelength artificial light influences the flash signals of Aquatica ficta fireflies (Coleoptera: Lampyridae)

Citation

Owens, Avalon C.S.; Meyer-Rochow, Victor B.; Yang, En-Cheng; Owens, Avalon Celeste Stevahn (2019), Data from: Short- and mid-wavelength artificial light influences the flash signals of Aquatica ficta fireflies (Coleoptera: Lampyridae), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.73qg8

Abstract

Urbanization can radically disrupt natural ecosystems through alteration of the sensory environment. Habitat disturbances are predicted to favor behaviorally flexible species capable of adapting to altered environments. When artificial light at night (ALAN) is introduced into urban areas, it has the potential to impede reproduction of local firefly populations by obscuring their bioluminescent courtship signals. Whether individual fireflies can brighten their signals to maintain visibility against an illuminated background remains unknown. In this study, we exposed male Aquatica ficta fireflies to diffused light of varying wavelength and intensity, and recorded their alarm flash signals. When exposed to wavelengths at or below 533 nm, males emitted brighter signals with decreased frequency. This is the first evidence of individual-level light signal plasticity in fireflies. In contrast, long wavelength ambient light (≥ 597 nm) did not affect signal morphology, likely because A. ficta cannot perceive these wavelengths. These results suggest long wavelength lighting is less likely to impact firefly courtship, and its use in place of broad spectrum white lighting could augment firefly conservation efforts. More generally, this study demonstrates benefits of bioluminescent signal plasticity in a "noisy" signaling environment, and sheds light on an important yet understudied consequence of urbanization.

Usage Notes

Location

Taipei
Taiwan