Artificial light at night increases growth and reproductive output in Anolis lizards

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Since the invention of electric lighting, artificial light at night (ALAN) has become a defining, and evolutionary novel, feature of human-altered environments especially in cities. ALAN imposes negative impacts on many organisms, including disrupting endocrine function, metabolism, and reproduction. However, we do not know how generalized these impacts are across taxa that exploit urban environments. We exposed brown anole lizards, an abundant and invasive urban exploiter, to relevant levels of ALAN in the laboratory and assessed effects on growth and reproduction at the start of the breeding season. Male and female anoles exposed to ALAN increased growth and did not suffer increased levels of corticosterone. ALAN exposure induced earlier egg-laying, likely by mimicking a longer photoperiod, and increased reproductive output without reducing offspring quality. These increases in growth and reproduction should increase fitness. Anoles, and potentially other taxa, may be resistant to some negative effects of ALAN and able to take advantage of the novel niche space ALAN creates. ALAN and both its negative and positive impacts may play a crucial role in determining which species invade and exploit urban environments.

Publication Title

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences