Artificial light at night causes reproductive failure in clownfish

Emily K. Fobert, Karen Burke da Silva, Stephen E. Swearer

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33 Citations (Scopus)


The Earth is getting brighter at night, as artificial light at night (ALAN) continues to increase and extend its reach. Despite recent recognition of the damaging impacts of ALAN on terrestrial ecosystems, research on ALAN in marine systems is comparatively lacking. To further our understanding of the impacts of ALAN on marine organisms, this study examines how the reproductive fitness of the common clownfish Amphiprion ocellaris is influenced by the presence of ALAN. We assessed how exposure to low levels of ALAN affects (i) frequency of spawning, (ii) egg fertilization success, and (iii) hatching success of A. ocellaris under control (12 : 12 day-night) and treatment (12 : 12 day-ALAN) light regimes. While we found exposure to ALAN had no impact on the frequency of spawning or fertilization success, ALAN had dramatic effects on hatching. Amphiprion ocellaris eggs incubated in the presence of ALAN simply did not hatch, resulting in zero survivorship of offspring. These findings suggest ALAN can significantly reduce reproductive fitness in a benthic-spawning reef fish. Further research in this field is necessary to fully understand the extent of this impact on population and community dynamics in the wild.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20190272
Number of pages5
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2019


  • Amphiprion ocellaris
  • anthropogenic disturbance
  • light pollution
  • reproductive fitness
  • spawning


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