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SP10: Evolutionary and ecological consequences of artificial light for mosquitoes and midges


On warm summer nights one can often see midges dancing in swarms and hear the solitary buzz of a mosquito, and if your window is open, they will come inside and join you. Every one of us has seen numerous insects buzzing around lamp posts, but is the same really true for these midges and mosquitoes? They play an important role in freshwater ecosystems and some species are human and animal pests, but are they attracted or maybe even repelled by artificial light? Does the kind of light matter? Are there species- and/ or sex-specific differences? Or could the presence of light during the night even have an effect on what these insects eat or bite? Interestingly, to date not much is known the effects of light on mosquitoes and midges.

Within subproject 10 the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) aims to answer at least some of these questions. Short-term effects of artificial light at night may include changes in dispersal, food sources, and reproductive success, whereas long-term effects could include changes in the genetic architecture of the population and favour some genotypes over others. The latter will be studied primarily on urban mosquito populations.

Our work contributes to both integrative projects (SP14) by conducting experiments in both urban and rural areas to assess the influence of artificial light at night on these organisms. To obtain as much information as possible we collaborate with the Technical University (TU) Berlin, the Leibniz Institute of Zoo and Wildlife Research and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research.

Scientist is Ann-Christin Honnen
Leader of subproject is Dr. Michael Monaghan