Today’s post comes from our Natural Heritage Education Coordinator, Brad Steinberg.
Not many researchers like to be kept in the dark…
…except, of course, for scotobiologists!
Scotobiology is the science of darkness., a research topic that is gaining importance. Many birds, amphibians, insects and plants (and us!) have evolved to rely on uninterrupted periods of darkness during the night.
Seasonal changes in the length of darkness at night help plants prepare for spring and fall, and provide important signals to other animals that trigger events such as amphibian reproduction and bird migration.
Unfortunately, the desire to illuminate the night and banish darkness has led to vast areas where artificial lighting has spilled over into cities and backyards, disrupting the darkness that is important to so many creatures and plants.
This “light pollution” has led to recognition of the importance of having dark areas in the landscape. Check out this map of global and Ontario light pollution.
the designation “dark sky reserves” – or areas where nighttime is specifically valued and protected – is an example of this.
Because most of the land within Ontario’s provincial parks has not been (and never will be) developed, these areas function as dark sky reserves. This important aspect of maintenance ecological integrity It allows our plants and animals to stay healthy and allows us to experience stargazing opportunities that simply don’t exist in urban areas.