Scientists have long understood that artificial light can disrupt wildlife that takes cues from natural light. It's becoming increasingly clear that light reflected off shiny artificial surfaces such as cars, buildings, and roads can also disrupt animal behavior—sometimes fatally. A new review of research on light pollution by a team of Hungarian and American scientists describes a new concern with polarized light pollution. When light bounces off reflective surfaces, it can become polarized, meaning that the light waves travel along a single plane. This Bio Bulletin describes how artificially reflective surfaces can mimic naturally polarizing surfaces like water, profoundly impacting the survival of species that are sensitive to polarized light.
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