The impact of streetlights on an aquatic invasive species: artificial light at night alters signal crayfish behaviour.
Artificial light at night (ALAN) can significantly alter the behaviour, communication and orientation of animals, and will potentially interact with other stressors to affect biodiversity. Invasive, non-native species are one of the largest threats to freshwater biodiversity; however, the impact of ALAN on such species is unknown. This study assessed the effects of ALAN at ecologically relevant levels on the behaviour of a globally widespread invasive species, the signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus). In experimental aquaria, crayfish were exposed to periods of daylight, control (<0.1 lx) and street-lit nights to test two hypotheses: (1) signal crayfish under natural conditions are nocturnal animals, spending more time in shelter during the day, whilst active and interacting during the night, and (2) ALAN reduces crayfish activity and intraspecific interactions, whilst increasing their propensity to use shelter. Our results confirm that signal crayfish are largely nocturnal, showing peak activity and interaction levels during control nights, whilst taking refuge during daylight hours. When exposed to short-term simulated light pollution from a streetlight at night however, activity and interactions with conspecifics were significantly reduced compared to control nights, whilst time spent in shelters increased. By altering crayfish behaviour, ALAN may change the ecosystem impacts of invasive crayfish in the wild. This study is the first to show an impact of ALAN on the behaviour of an invasive, non-native species, and provides information for the management of invasive crayfish in areas where ALAN is prevalent.