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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Trophic interactions between gastropods and epilithic microphytobenthos can provide a stabilizing compensatory mechanism against effects of artificial light at night on rocky shores. Painting: Elena Maggi

Maggi E, Benedetti-Cecchi L


Trophic compensation stabilizes marine primary producers exposed to artificial light at night

Artificial light at night (ALAN) is a widespread phenomenon along coastal areas. Despite increasing evidence of its pervasive effects on patterns of species distribution and abundance, the potential of this emerging threat to alter ecological processes in marine ecosystems has remained largely unexplored. Maggi and Benedetti-Cecchi examined the interactive effects of ALAN and grazing activity on a rocky intertidal food web. Exposure to white LED lighting, comparable to that experienced along local urbanized coasts, significantly enhanced the photosynthetic biomass of epilithic microphytobenthos and the grazing pressure of gastropods, such that consumers compensated for the positive effect of night lighting on primary producers. Trophic interactions can provide a stabilizing compensatory mechanism against ALAN effects in natural food webs.


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