Introducing Blinded by the Night- Creating a community for humans and wildlife.

My name is Beth Gerrard and I’m a final year student studying Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science at the University of the West England. Welcome to the first blog for my campaign, Blinded by the Night, which is running alongside the UWE Bat Conservation Research Lab. This campaign aims to protect bats around Stoke Park, Bristol through reducing light pollution.

I’m relatively new to blogging but think it can be such an important way to expand people’s knowledge on an issue. I will be posting these weekly and will cover a range of topics to let you really understand what’s going on and the simple ways in which you can help. I hope you find these informative and motivates you to get involved with a movement which can really make a difference!

So, what’s the problem?

Urbanisation is quickly expanding as we try to meet the requirements of our growing human population, resulting in large areas of habitat being converted into built-up, concrete areas [1]. For many wildlife this means their homes are separated creating small, isolated populations and light, air and noise pollution reduce the quality of their habitats. The barriers created mean animals such as hedgehogs and bats are either prevented from accessing their homes or need to take a longer, more energy-consuming route. Through making it harder for wildlife to survive, populations may decrease or if possible, move to more suitable homes. As well as affecting other species which rely on them, we are separating ourselves from the amazing variety of plants and animals we could be interacting with and makes our environment much duller!

Photo credit: Alamy

However, hope is not lost! Urban areas are filled with green spaces such as gardens, parks and even living walls! Nature is quick to adapt to our changes and much wildlife are able to thrive in urban environments. Despite this, we all need to play our part in reducing our impact on our wild neighbours.

Bats are particularly vulnerable to urbanisation due to the light pollution caused by Artificial Light At Night (ALAN). This is becoming more of a problem as artificial light is increasing by 6% each year! As bats are nocturnal, they are adapted to dark conditions, which means light night skies can affect their survival [2]. This doesn’t just impact bats, as they play an important role in helping the natural environment run smoothly, meaning other plants and animals will be affected. There are several bat species which rely on Stoke Park and the environment around. As it is surrounded by urban areas, much of which is residential, light pollution spills onto their habitats.

There’s a number of really simple things we can do at home to reduce our contribution to light pollution. Some of these include turning lights off in unused rooms, closing the curtains at night when the lights are on and using motion-sensor security lights [3]. However, this is just the start! Follow this campaign to see what else you can do to get involved and make a difference. You’ll soon realise that it’s not just bats and wildlife benefitting from these changes, as you can too! Reducing the light spilling from your home can attract a variety of interesting animals to your garden and save you money in the process.

Photo credit: Christian Giese

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, I hope it’s provided you with some background to the issue and has sparked your interest in conserving bats! If you could, please complete this very short survey about your initial awareness of the issue, which also provides a variety of options you have in taking action. So, join the fight to turn off the light!

Next week’s blog will be focussing on why bats are so unique and need our protection, so make sure you give it a read!

You can access information on this issue and find out how to help by following Blinded by the Night’s Facebook and Instagram pages. If you have any questions about the campaign or would like to get involved, please contact me via email at Beth2.Gerrard@live.uwe.ac.uk.

How to get involved:

Facebook: Blinded by the Night @blindedbythenightbristol

Instagram: @blindedbythenight_bats

References:

  1. URL: https://nbn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/State-of-Nature-2019-UK-full-report.pdf
  2. URL: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-25220-9_7
  3. URL: https://cdn.bats.org.uk/pdf/Resources/ilp-guidance-note-8-bats-and-artificial-lighting-compressed.pdf?mtime=20181113114229