Artificial light at night (ALAN) represents a significant threat to biodiversity. Given that protected areas (PAs) are in relative darkness compared to the surrounding sites, they could be considered an effective tool towards eliminating the impacts of ALAN. However, the extent to which climate change-induced shifts would drive species out of PAs and thus, alter their exposure to ALAN remains an open question.
We assessed the extent and protection coverage of dark areas across the current and future distributions of 39 raptor species of European conservation interest.
We initially developed a set of distribution models using current and projected climatic variables. Next, we used a satellite dataset of nighttime lights composite to determine the spread of ALAN within the raptors’ ranges. Finally, we applied three indices of proportional changes in the expansion of suitable habitats and dark areas to quantify patterns in ALAN within the current and future raptors’ ranges across Europe.
Our analyses revealed that potential future distribution shifts of raptors will lead to changes in the exposure of species to ALAN, with these patterns being rather unfavourable for most of them. Still, PAs in Europe were found to offer a relative high proportion of dark areas which overlap with the current and future raptors range.
Our findings provided some first insights into the spatial conflict between species ranges and ALAN, considering potential distribution shifts driven by climate change. The proposed methodology offers the means to identify potential dark refugia towards prioritizing conservation actions.