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2024Open access

Time is of the essence: The importance of considering biological rhythms in an increasingly polluted world

Thore, Eli S. J.; Aulsebrook, Anne E.; Brand, Jack A.; Almeida, Rafaela A.; Brodin, Tomas; Bertram, Michael G.

Abstract

Biological rhythms have a crucial role in shaping the biology and ecology of organisms. Light pollution is known to disrupt these rhythms, and evidence is emerging that chemical pollutants can cause similar disruption. Conversely, biological rhythms can influence the effects and toxicity of chemicals. Thus, by drawing insights from the extensive study of biological rhythms in biomedical and light pollution research, we can greatly improve our understanding of chemical pollution. This Essay advocates for the integration of biological rhythmicity into chemical pollution research to gain a more comprehensive understanding of how chemical pollutants affect wildlife and ecosystems. Despite historical barriers, recent experimental and technological advancements now facilitate the integration of biological rhythms into ecotoxicology, offering unprecedented, high-resolution data across spatiotemporal scales. Recognizing the importance of biological rhythms will be essential for understanding, predicting, and mitigating the complex ecological repercussions of chemical pollution.Biological rhythms shape the behavior and ecology of organisms but have been broadly ignored in chemical pollution research. This Essay highlights the importance of biological rhythms for understanding, predicting, and mitigating the complex ecological repercussions of chemical pollution.

Published in

PLoS Biology
2024, Volume: 22, number: 1, article number: e3002478