Highlighting the impacts of pollution on wildlife reproduction

The environment is changing at an unprecedented rate due to human activity. Wildlife are increasingly confronted with many forms of anthropogenic pollution, including chemicals released through the usage and disposal of countless products, noise from traffic and industrial activities, artificial light at night, and heat pollution from urban heat islands and global warming. These various forms of pollution can disrupt many biological processes that are critical for successful reproduction.

A recent review led by Australian researchers highlights the scope of disruption of reproductive processes via a diverse range of pollutants. This includes not only direct effects on the physiology and development of reproductive organs, but also consequences on factors relevant to reproduction such as shifts in reproductive timing, impacts on gamete quality, and interference of sexual communication and selection. The authors highlight how these alterations to traits necessary for reproductive success can have detrimental repercussions on populations and wider ecosystems, as well as ramifications on the evolution of affected species. The authors then suggest a number of strategies that could be implemented to mitigate the concerning impacts of pollution, such as additional wastewater treatment steps, sound barriers, and reduced usage of artificial light.

Read the review article here

Written by Lucinda Aulsebrook and Liza O’Donnell