Article

Experimental Evidence for the Effects of Chronic Anthropogenic Noise on Abundance of Greater Sage-Grouse at Leks

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Abstract

Increasing evidence suggests that chronic noise from human activities negatively affects wild animals, but most studies have failed to separate the effects of chronic noise from confounding factors, such as habitat fragmentation. We played back recorded continuous and intermittent anthropogenic sounds associated with natural gas drilling and roads at leks of Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). For 3 breeding seasons, we monitored sage grouse abundance at leks with and without noise. Peak male attendance (i.e., abundance) at leks experimentally treated with noise from natural gas drilling and roads decreased 29% and 73%, respectively, relative to paired controls. Decreases in abundance at leks treated with noise occurred in the first year of the study and continued throughout the experiment. Noise playback did not have a cumulative effect over time on peak male attendance. There was limited evidence for an effect of noise playback on peak female attendance at leks or male attendance the year after the experiment ended. Our results suggest that sage-grouse avoid leks with anthropogenic noise and that intermittent noise has a greater effect on attendance than continuous noise. Our results highlight the threat of anthropogenic noise to population viability for this and other sensitive species.

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... This noise pollution may increase risks to species reliant on acoustic communication that are already experiencing significant population declines (Barber et al., 2010), such as grassland birds (Rosenberg et al., 2019;Sauer et al., 2017). Anthropogenic noise may reduce the abundance of sensitive species , affect predator-prey dynamics (Francis et al., 2009;, interfere with acoustic communication (Warren et al., 2006) and act as a physiological stressor (Blickley, Blackwood, et al., 2012;Blickley, Word, et al., 2012), all of which can lead to fitness consequences at impacted sites (Barber et al., 2010). ...
... Thus, controlled playback experiments that isolate effects of noise from confounding factors at spatial scales relevant to conservation and land management are pivotal to help us understand responses to anthropogenic noise and to develop effective conservation strategies (Shannon, McKenna, et al., 2016). Recent large-scale playback studies have demonstrated that noise alone can affect passerine abundance and weight gain (McClure et al., 2013;Ware et al., 2015), clutch size and nestling body condition , and lek attendance by Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; Blickley, Blackwood, et al., 2012), greatly improving our appreciation for effects of noise in real-world conditions. While previous research has demonstrated negative impacts of broadcast energy sector noise on groundnesting songbirds (Cinto Mejia et al., 2019), we know of no equivalent research assessing effects of the different types of operational oil noise across their breeding grounds. ...
... Acute or erratic sounds may be perceived by wildlife as immediate threats, and may also be difficult to adapt to if sounds are unpredictable (Blickley, Blackwood, et al., 2012;Francis & Barber, 2013). ...
Article
1. Anthropogenic noise from natural resource extraction may negatively impact many species, particularly those reliant on acoustic communication. To compare impacts of several types of noise resulting from oil extraction operations on habitat use and productivity of grassland songbirds, we designed and implemented a novel large‐scale, spatially and temporally replicated experiment. 2. We recreated soundscapes produced by drilling and operating oil well noise, and compared impacts of noise‐producing and quiet playback infrastructure, in twenty‐nine 64.7‐ha native prairie sites in Alberta, Canada, from 2013–2015. Drilling noise recordings played 24 hours/day for 10 days, twice during each breeding season, while oil well operating noise played continuously, 24 hours/day, throughout each ~90‐day breeding season. 3. Despite the much shorter duration of drilling noise playbacks, drilling noise negatively impacted three of our four focal species, and had a much greater impact on habitat use and productivity than did well operating noise. Infrastructure also impacted Vesper Sparrows and Sprague’s Pipits, even in the absence of noise. 4. Synthesis and applications: Acute oil drilling noise had a greater negative impact on breeding migratory birds when compared to chronic oil well noise, perhaps because drilling noise is unpredictable. While this study demonstrates that noise alone can negatively impact habitat use, nesting success, and nestling quality, it is also clear that effective mitigation strategies require both noise and above‐ground infrastructure management to reduce impacts on wildlife.
... Previous work directly observing sage-grouse (Centrocercus spp.) habitat selection, or movement through the landscape (i.e., telemetry), provide some insight into the features likely to influence gene flow. For example, sage-grouse require sagebrush as a food source and for concealment from predators (Barnett & Crawford, 1994;Braun et al., 2005;Patterson, 1952;Sveum et al., 1998), while they generally avoid conifer cover (Baruch-Mordo et al., 2013;Hagen et al., 2011) and anthropogenic features Blickley et al., 2012;Copeland et al., 2013). Additionally, a developed understory is important for sage-grouse brood rearing (Aldridge & Brigham, 2002;Barnett & Crawford, 1994) and nest concealment (Aldridge & Brigham, 2002;Webb et al., 2012). ...
... Thus we considered anything that affects dispersal, resource selection, survival, fecundity, occupancy, avoidance, or behaviour. The landscape components identified included the following: habitat structure (e.g., shrub height) and amount of sagebrush cover (Aldridge & Boyce, 2007;Aldridge et al., , 2012Baruch-Mordo et al., 2013;Doherty et al., 2010;Fedy et al., 2014;Harju et al., 2013;Knick et al., 2013;Oyler-McCance et al., 2001;Rice et al., 2017), amount of conifer cover (Baruch-Mordo et al., 2013;Commons et al., 1999;Fedy et al., 2014;Hagen et al., 2011;Knick et al., 2013;Severson et al., 2017), conifer configuration or aggregation (Baruch-Mordo et al., 2013), normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) as a proxy for phenology (Aldridge & Boyce, 2007;Aldridge et al., 2012), soil wetness as described by compound topographic index or CTI (Aldridge & Boyce, 2007;Carpenter et al., 2010), seasonal habitat selection models for Gunnison sage-grouse , agricultural cover Beck & Maxfield, 2003;Bush et al., 2011;Fedy et al., 2014;Knick et al., 2013), proportion of anthropogenic development Knick et al., 2013;Rice et al., 2017), distance to development (Aldridge & Boyce, 2007;Aldridge et al., 2012), human population density , distance to human population density (Aldridge & Boyce, 2007;, road density (Aldridge & Boyce, 2007;Aldridge et al., 2012;Fedy et al., 2014;Knick et al., 2013), distance to roads Rice et al., 2017), oil and gas well density (Aldridge & Boyce, 2007;Blickley et al., 2012;Copeland et al., 2013;Green et al., 2017;Smith et al., 2014;Tack et al., 2011), distance to oil and gas wells (Aldridge & Boyce, 2007;Blickley et al., 2012;Copeland et al., 2013;Tack et al., 2011), slope (Harju et al., 2013;Knick et al., 2013), topographic roughness as described by the terrain ruggedness index or TRI (Fedy et al., 2014;Harju et al., 2013;Knick et al., 2013), annual precipitation (Blomberg et al., 2012;Fedy et al., 2014), mean maximum temperature (Blomberg et al., 2012), growing degree days, and a dryness index ; Table 1). Wind energy infrastructure can also impact movement and survival of sage-grouse (LeBeau et al., 2013(LeBeau et al., , 2017. ...
... Thus we considered anything that affects dispersal, resource selection, survival, fecundity, occupancy, avoidance, or behaviour. The landscape components identified included the following: habitat structure (e.g., shrub height) and amount of sagebrush cover (Aldridge & Boyce, 2007;Aldridge et al., , 2012Baruch-Mordo et al., 2013;Doherty et al., 2010;Fedy et al., 2014;Harju et al., 2013;Knick et al., 2013;Oyler-McCance et al., 2001;Rice et al., 2017), amount of conifer cover (Baruch-Mordo et al., 2013;Commons et al., 1999;Fedy et al., 2014;Hagen et al., 2011;Knick et al., 2013;Severson et al., 2017), conifer configuration or aggregation (Baruch-Mordo et al., 2013), normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) as a proxy for phenology (Aldridge & Boyce, 2007;Aldridge et al., 2012), soil wetness as described by compound topographic index or CTI (Aldridge & Boyce, 2007;Carpenter et al., 2010), seasonal habitat selection models for Gunnison sage-grouse , agricultural cover Beck & Maxfield, 2003;Bush et al., 2011;Fedy et al., 2014;Knick et al., 2013), proportion of anthropogenic development Knick et al., 2013;Rice et al., 2017), distance to development (Aldridge & Boyce, 2007;Aldridge et al., 2012), human population density , distance to human population density (Aldridge & Boyce, 2007;, road density (Aldridge & Boyce, 2007;Aldridge et al., 2012;Fedy et al., 2014;Knick et al., 2013), distance to roads Rice et al., 2017), oil and gas well density (Aldridge & Boyce, 2007;Blickley et al., 2012;Copeland et al., 2013;Green et al., 2017;Smith et al., 2014;Tack et al., 2011), distance to oil and gas wells (Aldridge & Boyce, 2007;Blickley et al., 2012;Copeland et al., 2013;Tack et al., 2011), slope (Harju et al., 2013;Knick et al., 2013), topographic roughness as described by the terrain ruggedness index or TRI (Fedy et al., 2014;Harju et al., 2013;Knick et al., 2013), annual precipitation (Blomberg et al., 2012;Fedy et al., 2014), mean maximum temperature (Blomberg et al., 2012), growing degree days, and a dryness index ; Table 1). Wind energy infrastructure can also impact movement and survival of sage-grouse (LeBeau et al., 2013(LeBeau et al., , 2017. ...
Article
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Habitat fragmentation and degradation impacts an organism's ability to navigate the landscape, ultimately resulting in decreased gene flow and increased extinction risk. Understanding how landscape composition impacts gene flow (i.e., connectivity) and interacts with scale is essential to conservation decision‐making. We used a landscape genetics approach implementing a recently developed statistical model based on the generalized Wishart probability distribution to identify the primary landscape features affecting gene flow and estimate the degree to which each component influences connectivity for Gunnison sage‐grouse (Centrocercus minimus). We were interested in two spatial scales: among distinct populations rangewide and among leks (i.e., breeding grounds) within the largest population, Gunnison Basin. Populations and leks are nested within a landscape fragmented by rough terrain and anthropogenic features, although requisite sagebrush habitat is more contiguous within populations. Our best fit models for each scale confirm the importance of sagebrush habitat in connectivity, although the important sagebrush characteristics differ. For Gunnison Basin, taller shrubs and higher quality nesting habitat were the primary drivers of connectivity, while more sagebrush cover and less conifer cover facilitated connectivity rangewide. Our findings support previous assumptions that Gunnison sage‐grouse range contraction is largely the result of habitat loss and degradation. Importantly, we report direct estimates of resistance for landscape components that can be used to create resistance surfaces for prioritization of specific locations for conservation or management (i.e., habitat preservation, restoration, or development) or as we demonstrated, can be combined with simulation techniques to predict impacts to connectivity from potential management actions.
... Second, whether different anthropogenic noise regimes exert distinct effects on behaviors, including sleep, remains poorly understood. A substantial number of human studies, and a few studies in animals, suggest that properties of noise regimes besides average loudness, such as intermittency and frequency-mediated differences in detectability, can affect responses to noise, including changes in sleep (Gill et al., 2015; but see Wysocki et al., 2006;Blickley et al., 2012;Nichols et al., 2015). The human auditory system more easily adjusts to consistent noise than intermittent noise (Westman and Walters, 1981), and intermittent noise can produce more annoyance, distraction and cognitive decline (Szalma and Hancock, 2011;Brink et al., 2019). ...
... In free-ranging animals, a few studies have found that variable noise has larger behavioral and physiological effects than consistent noise. For instance, semirandom traffic noise reduced the lek occupancy of greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) more than consistent noise from a natural gas drilling rig (Blickley et al., 2012), and intermittent, but not consistent, ship noise increased cortisol levels in four fish species (Wysocki et al., 2006). Whether temporally variable noise could also have different effects than consistent noise on the sleep of wild animals has not been tested. ...
... We calibrated consistent noise playbacks to 70 dB LA eq (80 dB for higher amplitude Grunst et al. / Science of the Total Environment xxx (xxxx) 146338 treatment) prior to placement in the field, using a sound level meter held inside an empty nest box at the level of the sleeping bird for a duration of 2 min. For variable noise recordings, calibration occurred during a period of noise and LA max (maximum A-weighted sound level within the time period) was used instead of LA eq (Blickley et al., 2012). We chose to design the playback in this way to minimize the difference in maximum noise levels between the treatments, which was the case since there was low variability in sound levels on the consistent noise playback. ...
Article
Anthropogenic noise is an ubiquitous disturbance factor, which, owing to the extensive nature of transportation networks, and ability of sound waves to penetrate distances, has wide-reaching impacts on biological communities. Research effort on biological effects of anthropogenic noise is extensive, but has focused on waking behavior, and to our knowledge, no published experimental study exists on how noise affects sleep in free-living animals. Sleep plays vital functions in processes such as cellular repair and memory consolidation. Thus, understanding the potential for noise to disrupt sleep is a critical research objective. Whether different noise regimes exert distinct effects on behavior also remains poorly understood, as does intraspecific variation in noise sensitivity. To address these knowledge gaps, we used a repeated-measures field experiment involving broad-casting traffic noise recordings at great tit (Parus major) nest boxes over a series of consecutive nights. We evaluated whether increasing the temporal variability and amplitude of traffic noise increased deleterious effects on sleep behavior in free-living great tits, and whether individuals differed in the magnitude of responses. We found that traffic noise reduced sleep duration, proportion, and bout length, and induced birds to exit nest boxes earlier in the morning. There was some support for a stronger effect of more variable noise, and relative to lower amplitude noise, higher amplitude noise resulted in less and more fragmented sleep. Effects of noise on sleep duration were stronger in older adults, and substantial, repeatable variation existed in individual responses. We demonstrate for the first time that anthropogenic noise can have strong effects on sleep in free-living animals, which may have cascading effects on waking behavior, physiology and fitness. Results suggest that reducing the amplitude of traffic noise may be an effective mitigation strategy, and that differences in individual sensitivity are important to consider when evaluating effects of noise exposure. Capsule Experimental exposure to temporally variable and consistent traffic noise negatively affected sleep behavior in a free-living songbird.
... For example, Pruett et al. (2009b) argued that a cognitive association between tall structures and avian predators might trigger avoidance of wind turbines. Other cues associated with increased human activity, including vehicular traffic, construction noise, or noise produced by turbines during operation, might generate a similar response, as has been suggested to explain avoidance of roads and oil and natural-gas wells by Greater Sage-Grouse (Blickley et al. 2012, Holloran et al. 2015. ...
... Finally, direct effects of wind-energy development could also operate immediately on vital rates themselves without any intermediate effect on habitat use. For example, noise associated with the construction and operation of wind-energy facilities might also interfere with courtship activities, reducing pairing success (Blickley et al. 2012), or produce sub-lethal, chronic stress responses, potentially suppressing survival or reproductive rates (Ortega 2012). ...
... Why prairie grouse respond negatively to oil and gas development is unclear, but acoustic and visual disturbance may play a role, at least in explaining changes in habitat use. Attendance of males at Greater Sage-Grouse leks experimentally exposed to recorded sounds of natural-gas drilling and road traffic declined relative to control leks, with a significantly greater decline observed at leks exposed to road noise compared to drilling noise (Blickley et al. 2012). ...
Preprint
A literature review of empirical research on the interactions between wind-energy development and grouse (Aves:Tetraoninae) of the North American plains and shrub-steppe.
... Ornithological Applications 123:1-14 © 2021 American Ornithological Society Changes in animal abundance during all or portions of their annual cycle can occur due to factors other than habitat loss. Disturbance accompanying energy development (e.g., increased vehicle traffic, operating noise, and infrastructure construction activity) may reduce both the wildlife value and use of nearby habitat (Habib et al. 2007, Bayne et al. 2008, Gilbert and Chalfoun 2011, Blickley et al. 2012, Loesch et al. 2013, Thompson et al. 2015, Shaffer and Buhl 2016. While this has been commonly noted in sage-grouse (Blickley et al. 2012;see Patricelli et al. 2013) and passerines (Habib et al. 2007, Francis et al. 2011, Thompson et al. 2015, few studies isolated the mechanisms driving these behaviors. ...
... Disturbance accompanying energy development (e.g., increased vehicle traffic, operating noise, and infrastructure construction activity) may reduce both the wildlife value and use of nearby habitat (Habib et al. 2007, Bayne et al. 2008, Gilbert and Chalfoun 2011, Blickley et al. 2012, Loesch et al. 2013, Thompson et al. 2015, Shaffer and Buhl 2016. While this has been commonly noted in sage-grouse (Blickley et al. 2012;see Patricelli et al. 2013) and passerines (Habib et al. 2007, Francis et al. 2011, Thompson et al. 2015, few studies isolated the mechanisms driving these behaviors. Visual disturbance requires line of sight from the occupied habitat and may change the spatial distribution of breeding duck pairs or reduce their abundance and vital rates as a result of reduced foraging opportunities relating to increased vigilance (Graeme et al. 2016). ...
... In contrast to our results, other studies have revealed significant negative impacts of oil and gas related to habitat loss, increased traffic, and noise on wildlife abundance across a range of habitats (Bayne et al. 2008, Doherty et al. 2008, Francis et al. 2011, Gilbert and Chalfoun 2011, Thompson et al. 2015, Barton et al. 2016. Blickley et al. (2012) found that lek attendance of male Greater Sagegrouse (Centrocercus urophsianus) was negatively related to road noise associated with energy development. Similarly, Doherty et al. (2010) demonstrated that Greater Sage-grouse avoided habitat that was otherwise suitable when in proximity to energy development, and Loesch et al. (2013) found decreased duck pair abundance in wind energy facilities. ...
Article
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Conservation partners are concerned that oil and gas development in the Prairie Pothole Region may reduce the abundance of breeding duck pairs using associated wetland habitat. We conducted wetland-based surveys for breeding pairs of 5 species of dabbling ducks in the Bakken oil field during 2015–2017 across a gradient of oil and gas development intensity to test the hypothesis that the abundance of breeding duck pairs on survey wetlands would decrease as the development of oil and gas resources increased. We included covariates traditionally used to predict breeding duck pairs (i.e. wetland size and class) and a spatiotemporal index of disturbance when developing zero-inflated Poisson models relating pair abundance to environmental predictors. Similar to past analyses, pair abundance was strongly associated with wetland size. Our results were mixed and suggested that the abundance of early and late nesting species was positively and negatively related, respectively, to an index of disturbance that was largely driven by oil and gas development. Regardless of the direction of the relationship, effect sizes were small and not considered biologically significant. Our findings indicate that in our study area, strategies to conserve wetland resources for breeding duck pairs should not deviate from previous prioritization metrics within the range of oil and gas development we observed. We believe that our findings may have implications to similar landscapes within the Bakken.
... Direct effects of development are those that occur via the direct interaction of people, infrastructure, and the focal species, and may include habitat loss and degradation (e.g., due to noise; Blickley et al. 2012, Ortega 2012 or direct mortality caused by humans or infrastructure. Prairie grouse are vulnerable to collisions with fences and powerlines, and in some cases, collisions may form an important source of annual mortality (Beck et al. 2006, Wolfe et al. 2007, Stevens et al. 2012, Robinson et al. 2016. ...
... Other cues associated with increased human activity, including vehicular traffic, construction noise, or noise produced by turbines during operation, might generate a similar response, as has been suggested to explain avoidance of roads and oil and natural-gas wells by greater sage-grouse (Blickley et al. 2012, Holloran et al. 2015. Greater prairiechickens at leks closer to wind turbines at a facility in Nebraska exhibited changes in vocalizations that may have been caused by noise produced by the turbines, or the roads built to service them (Whalen et al. 2018). ...
Article
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How to shape the anticipated build‐out of industrial‐scale renewable energy in a way that minimizes risk to wildlife remains contentious. The challenge of balancing wildlife conservation and decarbonization of the electricity sector is well illustrated in the grasslands and shrub‐steppe of North America. Here, several endemic species of grouse are the focus of intensive, long‐term conservation action by a host of governmental and nongovernmental entities, many of whom are now asking whether anticipated increases in the number of wind‐energy facilities will exacerbate declines or prevent recovery of these species. To address this question, we synthesized the potential consequences of wind‐energy development on prairie grouse. Published literature on behavior or demography of prairie grouse at wind‐energy facilities is sparse, with studies having been conducted at only 5 different facilities in the United States. Only 2 of these studies met the standard for robust impact analysis by collecting pre‐construction data and using control sites or gradient designs. Only one species, greater prairie chicken, had published results available for >1 facility. Most (10/12) studies also drew conclusions based on short (<4 years) periods of study, which is potentially problematic when studying highly philopatric species. Given these caveats, we found that, in the short‐term, adult survival and nest success appear largely unaffected in populations exposed to wind‐energy facilities. However, changes in habitat use by female greater sage‐grouse and female greater prairie‐chicken during some seasons and reduced lek persistence among male greater prairie‐chickens near wind turbines suggest behavioral responses that may have demographic consequences. Prairie grouse can coexist with wind‐energy facilities in some cases, at least in the short term, but important uncertainties remain, including the potential for long‐term, cumulative effects of the extensive development expected as states attempt to meet goals for generating electricity from renewable sources. A review of published research reveals that construction and operation of wind‐energy facilities has not been demonstrated to produce deleterious effects on vital rates of prairie grouse but can induce changes in the selection and use of habitat by individuals of these species. Prairie‐grouse populations can likely co‐exist with wind‐energy facilities in some cases, at least in the short term, but important uncertainties remain, including the potential for long‐term, cumulative effects of the extensive development expected as states attempt to meet goals for generating electricity from renewable sources.
... Bayne et al. (2008) found that passerine density in the breeding season was lower in areas adjacent to noise-generating compressor stations than in control areas adjacent to quiet, but otherwise similar, oil well pads. Similarly, Blickley et al. (2012) found fewer male Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) at leks paired with experimental traffic noise than at silent control leks. Finally, bird densities during the migratory and breeding seasons were lower near real (Reijnen et al. 1995) The effects of noise (noise absent = black; noise present = gray), light, and the interaction between noise and light on the distance to disturbance (or distance to the center of the array for control trials) of the first five vocalizations produced by each species during each trial (N = 887 songs from 27 species and 89 trials). ...
... A possible explanation for our discordant result is that these other studies measured avian densities next to chronic noise that began before birds arrived on the breeding grounds. The density of birds at those sites was likely governed by whether newly arriving migrants (Bayne et al. 2008;McClure et al. 2016) or males establishing leks (Blickley et al. 2012) chose to settle near noisy sites. In contrast, we measured the proximity of breeding birds to a noise source that was introduced into their established breeding territories. ...
Article
Understanding how anthropogenic disturbance affects animal behavior is challenging because observational studies often involve co-occurring disturbances (e.g., noise, lighting, and roadways), and laboratory experiments often lack ecological validity. During the 2016 and 2017 avian breeding seasons, we investigated the effects of anthropogenic noise and light on the singing and spatial behavior of wild birds by independently manipulating the presence of each type of disturbance at 89 sites in an otherwise undisturbed boreal forest in Labrador, Canada. Each treatment was surrounded by an eight-channel microphone array that recorded and localized avian vocalizations throughout the manipulation. We analyzed the effects of noise and light on the timing of the first vocalizations of each species at each array during the dawn chorus, and on the proximity of the vocalizing birds to the disturbance when those songs were produced. We analyzed all species combined, and then conducted separate analyses for the six most common species: boreal chickadee, dark-eyed junco, ruby-crowned kinglet, Swainson’s thrush, white-throated sparrow, and yellow-rumped warbler. When all species were analyzed together, we found that traffic noise attracted vocalizing birds. There was some evidence that light repelled birds, but this evidence was inconsistent. In our species-specific analyses, yellow-rumped warbler sang earlier in response to noise; Swainson’s thrush was attracted to noise and the combination of noise and light but repelled by light alone. Our study provides some of the first experimental evidence of the independent and combined effects of traffic noise and light on the vocal and spatial behavior of wild birds and suggests that breeding birds may be attracted to noisy roads where they could be exposed to additional forms of disturbance.
... Fewer researchers have noted effects of coal mining, but the increase in lek attendance with increasing distance to mine up to approximately 30 km that we observed could be largely due to direct loss of habitat via mine expansion. Other indirect effects including increased noise and traffic could also play a role (Blickley et al. 2012), but we did not examine these variables directly in this study. ...
... Other researchers reported negative effects of roads directly (Ingelfinger and Anderson 2004), or indirectly (Blickley et al. 2012), an effect that we identified for grouse and Brewer's sparrows. The relationship we identified, however, was quadratic, with lowest abundances at low and higher road density. ...
Article
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North American sagebrush (Artemisia spp.)‐obligate birds are experiencing steep population declines due in part to increased disturbance, mainly human‐caused, across their range. At the eastern edge of the sagebrush steppe, this issue may potentially be exacerbated because of natural disturbance by black‐tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus). Our goal was to compare local and landscape models of habitat use by greater sage‐grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), Brewer's sparrow (Spizella breweri), and sage thrasher (Oreoscoptes montanus) with models including effects of natural (i.e., prairie dog) and anthropogenic disturbance. We used a combination of field data collection, and state and national datasets for the Thunder Basin National Grassland, eastern Wyoming, USA, to understand the factors that influence lek attendance by sage‐grouse and habitat use by 2 passerines in this system. For all 3 species, models including big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) cover at local and landscape scales were the most competitive among univariate models, supporting the paradigm that sagebrush is key for these species. Models including anthropogenic disturbance (well density, road density) explained more variation than models of prairie dog disturbance alone for 2 of the 3 species, but long‐term disturbance by prairie dogs did reduce abundance of Brewer's sparrows. Although long‐term prairie dog disturbance has the potential to reduce sagebrush cover for sagebrush‐obligate birds, such events are likely rare because outbreaks of plague (Yersina pestis) and lethal control on borders with private land reduce prairie dog disturbance. Conversely, anthropogenic disturbance is slated to increase in this system, suggesting potentially accelerated declines for sagebrush birds into the future. © 2020 The Wildlife Society. Imperiled sagebrush songbirds and greater sage‐grouse are less likely to occupy disturbed habitat in northeastern Wyoming. Although these species are sensitive to both natural (prairie dog) and anthropogenic disturbance, the latter appears to play a larger role in habitat use in this region.
... behavioural or physiological responses [14,26,27]. Noise could, for example, increase perceived predation risk, leading to physiological changes such as circulating stress hormones [28][29][30]. These physiological responses may in turn affect cognitive processing, alter decision-making and ultimately lead to a notable difference in an animal's behaviour [17]. ...
... One of the few long-term field studies also carried out on great tits revealed that noise can mask male-female communication on the first day of exposure, but that males can adapt by moving closer to their mate over the course of several days [43]. Contrarily, long-term exposure to greater sage-grouse during the mating season revealed chronic levels of corticosterone, suggesting that individuals were continuously stressed by the increase in perceived predation risk caused by noise [29]. Although we exposed birds to four experimental days of noise and although test conditions differed across day, our data suggest at least that birds do not quickly habituate to the presence of noise during a foraging task. ...
Article
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Anthropogenic noise levels are globally rising with profound impacts on ecosystems and the species that live in them. Masking or distraction by noise can interfere with relevant sounds and thereby impact ecological interactions between individuals of the same or different species. Predator-prey dynamics are particularly likely to be influenced by rising noise levels, with important population- and community-level consequences, as species may differentially adapt to noise disturbance. Acoustic noise can, however, also impair the use of visual information by animals through the process of cross-sensory interference, possibly impacting species interactions that have so far been largely ignored by noise impact studies. Here, we assessed how noise affected the performance of great tit (Parus major) foraging on cryptic prey. Birds trained individually to search for paper moths differing in the level of camouflage with the test background were tested in the presence and absence of noise. We found that noise significantly increased approach and attack latencies, but that the effect depended on the level of crypsis. Noise increased latencies for cryptic prey targets, but not for conspicuous and colour-matched prey targets. Our results show that noise can interfere with the processing of visual information, particularly in difficult tasks such as separating objects from a similar looking background. These results have important ecological and evolutionary implications as they demonstrate how globally rising anthropogenic noise levels can influence the arms race between predators and prey across sensory domains.
... Experimental approaches, for example using noise playbacks in the field, allow excluding traffic associated factors other than noise. Using such an approach, Blickley et al. (2012) found that playbacks of sound recordings of oil drilling activity and heavy vehicle traffic reduced lek attendance of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) at playback versus control sites. McClure et al. (2013) constructed a 'phantom road' -a line of loudspeakers placed in trees playing back road noise at a known migratory stop-over site in a nature reserve. ...
... Laboratory studies provide a less natural environment but can keep potential confounds to a minimum, and can thus demonstrate a deterrent effect of traffic noise playback per se. Experiments, both in the field and in the laboratory, thus contribute to our understanding about the causal factors that explain the reduced species diversity and abundance in noisy versus quiet areas (Blickley et al., 2012;McClure et al., 2013). ...
Article
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Traffic noise is on the rise worldwide. Birds have been reported to decrease in number and diversity near highways. This could be indirectly caused by traffic if birds avoid overall poorer habitat quality near highways or directly if birds actively avoid noisy conditions. To test whether traffic noise directly affects birds' spatial preferences, we designed a preference test where zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) could move freely between noisy and quiet aviaries that only differed in the type of noise playbacks. During playback of high amplitude traffic noise recorded near from highways (5-15 m), birds spent significantly more time in the quieter aviary. Such spatial preferences were not observed during playbacks of moderate amplitude traffic noise recorded further away (200-400 m). Our result provides experimental support for the growing notion that traffic noise itself rather than the presence of vehicles may suffice to deter birds from busy roads.
... Sieving, 2016). Additionally, noise can weaken the immune systems of prey individuals (Blickley, Blackwood, & Patricelli, 2012). ...
... Human-created noise appears to have negative effects on foraging, breeding, and anti-predator behavior in animals of diverse taxa (Barber et al., 2010). For example, anthropogenic noise negatively affects breeding in greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; Blickley et al., 2012) and cichlid fish (Neolamprologus pulcher; Bruintjes & Radford, 2013; foraging in shore crabs (Carcinus maenas; Wale, Simpson, & Radford, 2013); and habitat use of bird communities in that birds with lower frequency calls avoided noisy environments (Francis, Ortega, & Cruz, 2011). In traffic noise, blackcapped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) show delayed responses to lower frequency songs (LaZerte, Slabbekoorn, & Otter, 2017), and great tits (Parus major) show diminished song discrimination ability (Pohl, Leadbeater, Slabbekoorn, Klump, & Langemann, 2012). ...
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Traffic noise likely reaches a wide range of species and populations throughout the world, but we still know relatively little about how it affects anti‐predator behavior of populations. We tested for possible effects of traffic noise on responses to predator acoustic cues in Carolina chickadees (Poecile carolinensis), tufted titmice (Baeolophus bicolor), and white‐breasted nuthatches (Sitta carolinensis) near 14 independent feeding stations in eastern Tennessee. We compared anti‐predator calling and seed‐taking behavior in response to playbacks of predator stimuli (screech owl calls) at sites naturally exposed to traffic noise and at sites that faced relatively little traffic noise. The screech owl call playback was designed to simulate the approach of this dangerous predator to a feeder being used by these small songbirds. We found that chickadees responded consistently to the owl stimuli across different levels of traffic noise. However, titmice, and nuthatches exhibited different behavioral responses to the predator stimulus, suggesting that traffic noise masked these low‐frequency predator calls. Overall, chickadees and nuthatches showed the broadest anti‐predator behavioral responses in comparison to titmice, corroborating earlier published work with an Indiana population. Finally, populations exposed to traffic noise overall seemed less able to detect predator cues potentially masked by that noise, and future work will need to assess likely seasonal variation in these responses as well as species‐level variation in anti‐predator responses in mixed‐species groups.
... Experimental studies have revealed how noise and light pollution influence perceptual processes during foraging (Siemers and Schaub, 2011), mating (Kempenaers et al., 2010;Halfwerket al., 2011) or predator avoidance (Morris-Drake et al., 2017;Meill ere et al., 2015). Furthermore, many studies have assessed how animals cope with these perceptual impacts by adjusting their behaviour (Halfwerk et al., 2012;de Jong et al., 2016;Ware et al., 2015) and physiology (Blickley et al., 2012), and in few cases their perceptual sensitivities (Gomeset al., 2016;Danilovichet al., 2015). The impacts of light and noise on the activity patterns of birds have been particularly well studied. ...
... Birds exposed to noise may be distracted or confused, which could in turn lead to increased levels of circulating stress hormones and associated changes in activity. Chronic and acute exposure to noise has been shown to induce a stress response and to lead to increased levels of corticosterone in various bird species (Blickley et al., 2012;Potvin et al., 2016;Kleist et al., 2018). Stressed birds may generally show less activity or take less risk and be therefore less active. ...
Article
Urbanisation is increasing globally at a rapid pace. Consequently, wild species face novel environmental stressors associated with urban sprawl, such as artificial light at night and noise. These stressors have pervasive effects on the behaviour and physiology of many species. Most studies have singled out the impact of just one of these stressors, while in the real world they are likely to co-occur both temporally and spatially, and we thus lack a clear understanding of the combined effect of anthropogenic stressors on wild species. Here, we experimentally exposed captive male great tits (Parus major) to artificial light at night and 24 h noise in a fully factorial experiment. We then measured the effect of both these stressors on their own and their combination on the amount and timing of activity patterns. We found that both light and noise affected activity patterns when presented alone, but in opposite ways: light increased activity, particularly at night, while noise reduced it, particularly during the day. When the two stressors were combined, we found a synergistic effect on the total activity and the nighttime activity, but an antagonistic effect on daytime activity. The significant interaction between noise and light treatment also differed among forest and city birds. Indeed, we detected a significant interactive effect on light and noise on daytime, nighttime, dusktime and offset of activity of urban birds, but not of forest birds. These results suggest that both artificial light at night and anthropogenic noise can drive changes in activity patterns, but that the specific impacts depend on the habitat of origin. Furthermore, our results demonstrate that co-occurring exposure to noise and light can lead to a stronger impact at night than predicted from the additive effects and thus that multisensory pollution may be a considerable threat for wildlife.
... Alternatively, given that the impacts of exploratory works are also substantial and often unregulated, periodic measurements of physiological performance at these preliminary stages can help dimension the actual mitigation actions that will be required (Ellis et al., 2012). Using previous research on how and why environmental change impacts these traits, acceptable standards of change can then be agreed upon before projects begin (Blickley et al., 2012;Patricelli et al., 2013). When physiological traits with known relationships to performance and fitness are used (e.g. ...
Article
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Applying physiological tools, knowledge and concepts to understand conservation problems (i.e. conservation physiology) has become commonplace and confers an ability to understand mechanistic processes, develop predictive models and identify cause-and-effect relationships. Conservation physiology is making contributions to conservation solutions; the number of ‘success stories’ is growing, but there remain unexplored opportunities for which conservation physiology shows immense promise and has the potential to contribute to major advances in protecting and restoring biodiversity. Here, we consider how conservation physiology has evolved with a focus on reframing the discipline to be more inclusive and integrative. Using a ‘horizon scan’, we further explore ways in which conservation physiology can be more relevant to pressing conservation issues of today (e.g. addressing the Sustainable Development Goals; delivering science to support the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration), as well as more forward-looking to inform emerging issues and policies for tomorrow. Our horizon scan provides evidence that, as the discipline of conservation physiology continues to mature, it provides a wealth of opportunities to promote integration, inclusivity and forward-thinking goals that contribute to achieving conservation gains. To advance environmental management and ecosystem restoration, we need to ensure that the underlying science (such as that generated by conservation physiology) is relevant with accompanying messaging that is straightforward and accessible to end users.
... Secondary physiological responses to anthropogenic noise have been recorded that may have been triggered by the primary stress response; for example, increases in glucose and haematocrit (Filiciotto et al., 2013), the heterophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (Campo et al., 2005), cardiac output (Graham & Cooke, 2008), and ventilation and metabolic rates Radford et al., 2016;Simpson et al., 2016), as well as compromised hemolymph physiology, reduced hemocyte density and disruption to osmoregulation (Day et al., 2017). Tertiary stress responses to anthropogenic noise that may result from effects on the neuroendocrine system include changes in foraging (Purser & Radford, 2011;Wale et al., 2013), schooling (Hawkins et al., 2014), movement (Picciulin et al., 2010;Buscaino et al., 2010;Holmes et al., 2017), anti-predator behaviour (Simpson et al., 2015;Purser et al., 2016), courtship (Blickley et al., 2012a), parental care (Picciulin et al., 2010;Naguib et al., 2013), inter-species interactions (Nedelec et al., 2017a) and survival Day et al., 2017;Nedelec et al., 2017b). However, none of these studies have demonstrated the proximate links from primary to tertiary stress responses, thus rendering proximate mechanisms in response to anthropogenic noise difficult to elucidate. ...
Article
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Anthropogenic noise is an emergent ecological pollutant in both terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Human population growth, urbanisation, resource extraction, transport and motorised recreation lead to elevated noise that affects animal behaviour and physiology, impacting individual fitness. Currently, we have a poor mechanistic understanding of the effects of anthropogenic noise, but a likely candidate is the neuroendocrine system that integrates information about environmental stressors to produce regulatory hormones; glucocorticoids (GCs) and androgens enable rapid individual phenotypic adjustments that can increase survival. Here, we carried out two field-based experiments to investigate the effects of short-term (30 min) and longer-term (48 h) motorboat-noise playback on the behaviour, GCs (cortisol) and androgens of site-attached free-living orange-fin anemonefish (Amphiprion chrysopterus). In the short-term, anemonefish exposed to motorboat-noise playback showed both behavioural and hormonal responses: hiding and aggression increased, and distance moved out of the anemone decreased in both sexes; there were no effects on cortisol levels, but male androgen levels (11-ketotestosterone and testosterone) increased. Some behaviours showed carry-over effects from motorboat noise after it had ceased, and there was no evidence for a short-term change in response to subsequent motorboat-noise playback. Similarly, there was no evidence that longer-term exposure led to changes in response: motorboat noise had an equivalent effect on anemonefish behaviour and hormones after 48 h as on first exposure. Longer-term noise exposure led to higher levels of cortisol in both sexes and higher testosterone levels in males, and stress-responses to an additional environmental challenge in both sexes were impaired. Circulating androgen levels correlated with aggression, while cortisol levels correlated with hiding, demonstrating in a wild population that androgen/glucocorticoid pathways are plausible proximate mechanisms driving behavioural responses to anthropogenic noise. Combining functional and mechanistic studies are crucial for a full understanding of this global pollutant.
... Reduced calling activity in response to common myna calls and pink noise could have occurred because these stimuli were perceived by blackthroated finches as a threat. When individuals feel threatened by novel noise, they may flee an area or freeze (Karp and Root 2009, Mueller-Blenkle et al. 2010, Blickley et al. 2012a, McClure et al. 2013, Mancera et al. 2017), behaviours which could cause a reduction in calling. We cannot rule out the possibility that black-throated finches innately recognised nutmeg mannikin calls as non-threatening estrildid finch calls, but felt threatened by common myna calls (and pink noise) and reduced calling as a result. ...
Article
Novel noises can affect various animal behaviours, and changes to vocal behaviour are some of the most documented. The calls of invasive species are an important source of novel noise, yet their effects on native species are poorly understood. We examined the effects of invasive bird calls on the vocal activity of an endangered Australian finch to investigate whether: (i) native finch calling behaviour was affected by novel invasive bird calls, and (ii) the calls of the finches overlapped in frequency with those of invasive birds. We exposed a wild population of Black‐throated Finch southern subspecies (Poephila cincta cincta) to the vocalisations of two invasive birds, Nutmeg Mannikins (Lonchura punctulata) and Common Mynas (Acridotheres tristis), a synthetic ‘pink’ noise, and a silent control. To determine whether the amount of Black‐throated Finch calling differed in response to treatments, we recorded and quantified Black‐throated Finch vocalisations, and assessed the amount of calling using a generalised linear mixed model followed by pairwise comparisons. We also measured, for both Black‐throated Finches and the stimulus noises: dominant, minimum and maximum frequency, and assessed the degree of frequency overlap between Black‐throated Finch calls and stimulus noises. Compared to silent controls, Black‐throated Finches called less when exposed to Common Myna calls and pink noise, but not to Nutmeg Mannikin calls. We also found that pink noise overlapped most in frequency with Black‐throated Finch calls. Common Myna calls also somewhat overlapped the frequency range of Black‐throated Finch calls, whereas Nutmeg Mannikin calls overlapped the least. It is possible that masking interference is the mechanism behind the reduction in calling in response to Common Myna calls and pink noise, but more work is needed to resolve this. Regardless, these results indicate that the calls of invasive species can affect the behaviour of native species, and future research should aim to understand the scope and severity of this issue. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... We avoided estimating the area influenced by indirect effects of energy infrastructure because of uncertainty regarding the direction of some effects and the distance at which they influence GrSG use and habitat suitability. Indirect effects of energy development can influence GrSG via changes in landscape-scale suitability (Walker et al., 2016), radiating ecological effects of industrial activity (e.g., from noise, dust, fumes, pollutants, weeds; Bergquist et al., 2007;Sawyer et al., 2009;Blickley et al., 2012;Barlow et al., 2017), and cascading ecological effects on interacting species (e.g., predators, competitors, pathogens, parasites) (Sanders and Chalfoun, 2019). However, some components of energy development could conceivably increase habitat suitability for GrSG in the PPR and thereby offset at least some direct loss of habitat. ...
Article
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New technologies and increasing energy demand have contributed to rapid expansion of unconventional oil and gas development in the U.S. in the past two decades. Quantifying the effects of energy infrastructure on land cover and wildlife habitat is essential for informing land-use policy, developing wildlife conservation strategies, and projecting impacts of future development. The greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; GrSG) is a species of concern in sagebrush ecosystems of the western U.S. and Canada and the focus of widespread conservation and management efforts. Increasing energy development within GrSG range has prompted the need to quantify and predict impacts of energy infrastructure on their habitat and populations. We mapped the annual distribution, surface type, and activity level of energy and non-energy infrastructure in the Parachute-Piceance-Roan (PPR), a small, peripheral greater sage-grouse population in Colorado with expanding oil and gas development, from 2005 to 2015. During that time, the footprint of energy infrastructure more than doubled to 3,275 ha (+108.6%), including 195 new well pads, 930 ha of new pipelines, and 230 km of new roads. In contrast, non-energy infrastructure decreased to 532 ha (-8.3%). The majority of energy infrastructure present each year (77-84%) was supporting infrastructure (i.e. facilities, roads, pipelines) rather than well pads, with an average of 2.24 ± 0.52 SE ha of supporting infrastructure per ha of well pad. Pipelines comprised 74-80% of reclaimed surface and roads comprised 54-69% of disturbed surface across years. By 2015, anthropogenic infrastructure covered 2.70% of occupied range and 2.93% of GrSG habitat, and energy infrastructure covered 2.50% and 10.79% of two priority habitat management area zones in the PPR. Three land cover classes most affected by energy infrastructure were also those strongly selected by GrSG. Topographic constraints appear to concentrate energy infrastructure in areas with gentler topography that also have the highest GrSG use. Together, these patterns suggest that future energy development will cause substantial additional loss and modification of GrSG habitat in the PPR. Our findings are valuable for assessing surface disturbance caps for land-use management and projections of energy infrastructure effects on wildlife habitat in this and other expanding oil and gas fields.
... Neither birds nor terrestrial environments limit the capacity for experimental study. However, replicating the spectral composition and sound pressure-level attenuation of loud, low-frequency, anthropogenic noise via playback of recordings is fairly involved (Rosa et al. 2015) and especially challenging at large scales and over long periods (Blickley et al. 2012). Therefore, researchers may have used actual urban and traffic noise to avoid methodological complications and ensure stimulus validity, at the expense of being able to demonstrate causation. ...
Article
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Anthropogenic noise is a globally widespread sensory pollutant, recognised as having potentially adverse effects on function, demography, and physiology in wild animals. Human population growth, and associated changes in urbanisation, transportation, and resource extraction, all contribute to anthropogenic noise and are predicted to increase in the coming decades. As a result, wildlife exposure to anthropogenic noise is expected to rise correspondingly. Data collected by field research are uniquely important in advancing understanding of the real‐world repercussions of human activity on wildlife. We therefore performed a comprehensive systematic review of literature published between 2008–2018 that reported field investigations of anthropogenic noise impacts. We evaluated publication metrics, geographical distribution, study subject, and methodology. Research activity increased markedly over the assessment period. However, there was a pronounced geographical bias in research, with most being conducted in North America or Europe, and a notable focus on terrestrial environments. Fewer than one‐fifth of terrestrial studies were located in rural areas likely to experience urbanisation by 2030, meaning data on ecosystems most likely to be affected by future changes are not being gathered. There was also bias in the taxonomic groups investigated: most research was conducted on birds and aquatic mammals, whereas terrestrial mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates received only limited research attention. Almost all terrestrial studies examined diurnal species, despite evidence that nocturnality is the prevailing animal activity pattern. Nearly half the studies investigated effects of road or urban noise, with the bulk of research effort being restricted to functional, rather than physiological or demographic consequences. Few experimental studies addressed repercussions of longer‐term exposure to anthropogenic noise, or longer‐term post‐exposure effects, and multiple noise‐types or levels were rarely compared. These knowledge gaps will need to be tackled swiftly if we are to successfully manage effects of increasing worldwide wildlife exposure to anthropogenic noise.
... An exception is work investigating the relationships between natural gas extraction activities and Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) lek attendance and activity. Blickley et al. (2012a) found that male Greater Sage-Grouse attendance at leks declined when exposed to playback of experimental anthropogenic noise (i.e. roads and natural gas drilling), while stress levels of males that remained on a disturbed lek were ~17% higher than individuals on control leks (Blickley et al. 2012b). ...
Article
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Over the last century, increasing human populations and conversion of grassland to agriculture have had severe consequences for numbers of Greater Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido). Understanding Greater Prairie-Chicken response to human disturbance, including the effects of anthropogenic noise and landscape modification, is vital for conserving remaining populations because these disturbances are becoming more common in grassland systems. Here, we evaluate the effect of low-frequency noise emitted from a wind energy facility on habitat selection. We used the Normalized Difference Soundscape Index, a ratio of human-generated and biological acoustic components, to determine the impact of the dominant acoustic characteristics of habitat relative to physical landscape features known to influence within–home range habitat selection. Female Greater Prairie-Chickens avoided wooded areas and row crops but showed no selection or avoidance of wind turbines based on the availability of these features across their home range. Although the acoustic environment near the wind energy facility was dominated by anthropogenic noise, our results show that acoustic habitat selection is not evident for this species. In contrast, our work highlights the need to reduce the presence of trees, which have been historically absent from the region, as well as decrease the conversion of grassland to row-crop agriculture. Our findings suggest physical landscape changes surpass altered acoustic environments in mediating Greater Prairie-Chicken habitat selection.
... Noise can also have negative non-auditory effects, in that it may act as a stressor and could increase physiological stress responses such as elevated plasma glucocorticoids, which can lead to depressed immune function and increased oxidative stress in the brain and organs of the immune system (reviewed in Kight and Swaddle, 2011). Several species of birds have shown correlations between levels of the hormone corticosterone and chronic environmental noise, although the size or direction of these correlations seem to vary by species, life history stage and context (Wright et al., 2007;Crino et al., 2011Crino et al., , 2013Blickley et al., 2012;Potvin and MacDougall-Shackleton, 2015a;Kleist et al., 2018). Elevated levels of corticosterone in mothers led to small body size and slow plumage development in offspring (Saino et al., 2005). ...
Article
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The impact of human activity on the acoustic environment is overwhelming, with anthropogenic noise reaching even remote areas of the planet. The World Health Organization has identified noise pollution as one of the leading environmental health risks in humans, and it has been linked to a myriad of short- and long-term health effects in exposed individuals. However, less is known about the health effects of anthropogenic noise exposure on animals. We investigated long- and short-term effects of traffic noise on zebra finches breeding in small communal aviaries, using a repeated measures design. Birds bred in both noise and no-noise conditions, and we measured baseline plasma glucocorticoid levels before, during and after breeding. In addition, we assayed immune function, measured reproductive success and offspring growth and compared rates of extra-pair paternity of breeding adults. Breeding birds had significantly lower baseline plasma corticosterone levels when exposed to traffic noise than when they were not exposed to noise playback. In addition, the nestlings reared during noise exposure were lighter than nestlings of the same parents when breeding in control conditions. Our results suggest that traffic noise poses a more severe hurdle to birds at more vulnerable stages of their life history, such as during reproductive events and ontogeny. While chronic exposure to traffic noise in our birds did not, by itself, prove to be a sufficient stressor to cause acute effects on health or reproductive success in exposed individuals, it did result in disruptions to normal glucocorticoid profiles and delayed offspring growth. However, animals living in urban habitats are exposed to a multitude of anthropogenic disturbances, and it is likely that even species that appear to be thriving in noisy environments may suffer cumulative effects of these multiple disturbances that may together impact their fitness in urban environments.
... The NPS has been working for several decades to establish baseline conditions, as well as to develop measuring and monitoring methods for acoustic environments in national parks (Miller 2008 Roads and energy development facilities appear to have the greatest impacts on wildlife (as opposed to inputs such as overflights; Barber et al. 2011;Newman et al. 2014). Road noise can alter animal behavior, movement patterns, ability to find prey, and breeding processes (Reijnen and Foppen 2006;Bee and Swanson 2007;Barber et al. 2011;Siemers and Schaub 2011), while noises associated with energy development are often incessant and have been associated with increased levels of chronic stress on animals near these sites (Bayne et al. 2008;Barber et al. 2009;Francis et al. 2011b;Blickley et al. 2012;Souther et al. 2014). Some species are capable of adapting to long-term anthropogenic noise sources in their environment, while others cannot (Barber et al. 2010). ...
Technical Report
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The Natural Resource Condition Assessment (NRCA) Program, administered by the National Park Service’s (NPS) Washington Support Office, Denver Service Center Planning Division, provides documentation about current conditions of important park natural resources through a spatially explicit, multidisciplinary synthesis of existing scientific data and knowledge. The workshop for Petrified Forest National Park (PEFO) NRCA was held on 02-04 September 2015. PEFO was originally established as a national monument in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. Designated a national park in 1962, these lands were recognized as a national park unit because of the fossilized remains of Mesozoic forests that were of the great scientific value and by preserving these fossils, the public good would be promoted (NPS 2015). This body of literature and research was used to report on current conditions for the 14 natural resource topics park staff selected for its NRCA. These 14 natural resources (with 41 indicators) were grouped into three broad categories: landscape-scale, supporting environment (i.e., physical resources), and biological integrity. The latter included chapters on wildlife and vegetation. This NRCA includes an assessment of condition and trend for key resources determined by assessing multiple indicators for each focal resource (Chapter 4). A summary is provided for each resource category below. Most indicators were identified as currently in good condition (14 indicators) or warranting moderate concern (10); additionally, 14 indicators were identified as unknown or indeterminate based on a lack of information to complete the assessment. The most significantly impacted resources included air quality and the acoustic environment. The only natural resources considered to be in good condition were biodiversity, although most of the indicators rated at this level were indicative of inventory work into either diversity or habitat was largely completed; all of substantive indicators related to indicator species, the effects of alien plant species on ecosystem health or bait roost habitat were unknown or indeterminate. Because PEFO is a non-urban park, current and future threats are more associated with increased visitation and issues associated with growing population centers at considerable distances from the park’s boundary. Acoustic environment received a “significant concern” rating, which is primarily due to vehicular traffic. As visitation increases, the condition of the acoustic environment will be further eroded—unless efforts are ultimately taken to limit the number of vehicles on park roads. Air quality and night skies will continue to be challenged by the growing population centers of Flagstaff, Arizona and Gallup, New Mexico, and the expanding metropolitan areas of Phoenix, Arizona and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Unless these population centers address air and light pollution, improving these conditions at PEFO will be beyond the park’s control.
... It is expected that animals are more negatively impacted by unpredictable and variable noises, rather than constant and stable background sounds (Blickley, Blackwood, & Patricelli, 2012;Rabat, 2007;Rabat et al., 2004). A high peak-to-peak level would mean higher variation between the maximum and minimum sound levels, indicating a more variable soundscape. ...
Article
Most studies assessing the impact of noises on zoo animal welfare did not measure sound frequencies outside of the human‐hearing range (infrasounds and ultrasounds). Many nonhuman mammals can hear these frequencies, and because loud and variable soundscapes are potentially detrimental for animal welfare, this overlooked aspect of their acoustic environment could have important consequences. This study evaluated the soundscape of an urban zoo in a large frequency range (17.5–90,510 Hz) by measuring its average sound levels (Leq) and variability (the difference between highest and lowest peaks). Sound data were collected for 24 hr in 25 locations (e.g., indoor, outdoor, near the amusement park). The soundscape was not considered problematic for animal welfare when looking at the average sound levels in most locations (<77‐dB sound pressure level [SPL]), except for a few indoor areas and near the water park. Ultrasounds were rare, had low average sound levels, and were less variable in time. Infrasounds were always present and were the loudest and most variable sound frequencies. The soundscape was louder and more variable during the day and when visitors were present, suggesting that human‐related activities were the sources of these augmentations. Indoor environments were generally louder than outdoor environments and touristic features; however, the water park was near 85‐dB SPL during the day. On the basis of results, we suggest a series of mitigation actions to minimize noise‐related stress in captive animals. Research Highlights • Sound levels were not problematic for animal welfare, except at some locations. • Infrasounds could be a concern to animal welfare, but not ultrasounds. • Human activities are important sources of noise in a zoo and could be stressful for animals.
... Stress responses to sound pollution have also been shown in nonhuman vertebrates (reviewed in [6]). Bird communities, such as the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), have elevated faecal corticosteroid metabolites and show a decline in male lek attendance when exposed to chronic and intermittent noise [8,9]. Reproductive behaviour, including anuran mate calling, is affected by chronic roadside noise, with frogs for example having to increase song pitch leading to greater energy expenditure [10]. ...
Article
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Anthropogenic noise is a pervasive global pollutant that has been detected in every major habitat on the planet. Detrimental impacts of noise pollution on physiology, immunology and behaviour have been shown in terrestrial vertebrates and invertebrates. Equivalent research on aquatic organisms has until recently been stunted by the misnomer of a silent underwater world. In fish, however, noise pollution can lead to stress, hearing loss, behavioural changes and impacted immunity. But, the functional effects of this impacted immunity on disease resistance due to noise exposure have remained neglected. Parasites that cause transmissible disease are key drivers of ecosystem biodiversity and a significant factor limiting the sustainable expansion of the animal trade. Therefore, understanding how a pervasive stressor is impacting host–parasite interactions will have far-reaching implications for global animal health. Here, we investigated the impact of acute and chronic noise on vertebrate susceptibility to parasitic infections, using a model host–parasite system (guppy–Gyrodactylus turnbulli). Hosts experiencing acute noise suffered significantly increased parasite burden compared with those in no noise treatments. By contrast, fish experiencing chronic noise had the lowest parasite burden. However, these hosts died significantly earlier compared with those exposed to acute and no noise treatments. By revealing the detrimental impacts of acute and chronic noise on host–parasite interactions, we add to the growing body of evidence demonstrating a link between noise pollution and reduced animal health.
... Within areas identified as important for connectivity, the need for a route should be considered in light of both its positive (recreation, transportation) and negative (wildlife disturbance, increased fragmentation) effects, with particular emphasis given to wildlife disturbance and fragmentation impacts (Millhouser and Singer 2018;Robinson et al. 2010). Routes have a zone of influence on wildlife well beyond their actual footprint on the landscape which may, depending on the Assessment of Wildlife Connectivity on Federal Lands in Colorado | 34 landscape and species concerned, extend from 100 meters to as much as a kilometer on either side of a trail or road (see Blickley et al. 2012;USFS 1997;Wisdom et al. 2004). Wildlife flushing is not the only measure of influence; numerous studies show that even wildlife not overtly reacting to human presence experience hormonal or energy use changes that may reduce fitness (see Creel et al. 2002;Jachowski et al. 2015;Millspaugh et al. 2001). ...
Technical Report
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Using David Theobald's landscape integrity dataset at 270 m resolution, publicly available DEM, road, and hydrography data, we used Circuitscape to analyze connectivity across the entire state of Colorado. The results are intended to be used in identifying areas of high connectivity value that should be prioritized for conservation by federal agencies.
... Beyond the civilian road, other potential sources of such noise include artificial waterways, trails, railroads and utility easements. Research on terrestrial organisms exposed to noise has shown a reduction in available habitat (Schaub et al., 2008;Blickley et al., 2012a;Ware et al., 2015), alterations of communication signals (Vargas-Salinas et al., 2014;Templeton et al., 2016) and indicators of physiological stress (Blickley et al., 2012b;Tennessen et al., 2014;Green et al., 2015). However, the consequences brought on by noise in these systems are not limited to terrestrial habitats. ...
Article
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While the expansion of anthropogenic noise studies in aquatic habitats has produced conservation-based results for a range of taxa, relatively little attention has been paid to the potential impacts on stream fishes. Recent work has shown responses to road noise in single species of stream fish; however, assemblage-wide effects of anthropogenic noise pollution have not yet been investigated. By examining five metrics of disturbance across four ecologically and evolutionarily disparate species of stream fishes, a series of laboratory experiments aimed to describe the effects of and species susceptibility to anthropogenic noise playback. Each species studied represented a unique combination of hearing sensitivity and water column position. Physiological and behavioral metrics were compared across the presence and absence of rail-noise noise playback in four target species. Through repeated subsampling, the temporal dynamics of cortisol secretion in response to noise in two target species were additionally described. Rail-noise playback had no statistically significant effect on blood glucose or water-borne cortisol levels, with the exception of decreased cortisol in noise-exposed largescale stoneroller (Campostoma oligolepis). Time-course cortisol experiments revealed rapid secretion and showed minimal effects of noise at most observation points. The presence of noise produced significant changes in ventilation rate and swimming parameters in a portion of the four species observed representing the most conserved responses. Overall, effects of noise were observed in species contrary to what would be hypothesized based on theoretical hearing sensitivity and water column position demonstrating that predicting susceptibility to this type of stressor cannot be accomplished based off these course considerations alone. More importantly, we show that anthropogenic noise can disrupt a variety of behavioral and physiological processes in certain taxa and should be further investigated via measures of fitness in the wild.
... In addition, responses may strongly vary in intensity or nature across species (e.g. Penna et al., 2007;Francis et al., 2011b) and according to noise features (Halfwerk & Slabbekoorn, 2009;Blickley et al., 2011). ...
Article
Anthropogenic noise is spreading worldwide and can interfere with the acoustic communication of multiple animal groups. Species communicating in low-frequency ranges (having large sound production structures) and with limited vocal learning are expected to be especially vulnerable to human noise-induced masking interference. yet how such species may confront this emerging impact has scarcely been explored. Here we examined the effect of anthropogenic noise on the calling behaviour of a sizeable non-passerine bird, the Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax, across a gradient of road traffic noise and in relation to male position within the lek. Using directional recordings and noise mapping, we determined inter– and intra-individual variation in call parameters and their relationship with noise level and frequency at both spatial and temporal scales, defined respectively as (i) variation of noise according to the position of the calling sites of each male within the lek (spatial scale) and (ii) fine temporal variation of noise experienced by individual males immediately prior to each call (temporal scale). Little Bustard males increased their call rate at sites exposed to higher average noise levels and at those located further from the nearest neighbour within the lek, whereas temporal changes in noise showed no effect on call rate. In contrast, call duration decreased with relative increases in noise level prior to each call, being unaffected by spatial changes in noise. Peak call frequency showed no significant variation over time and among sites. Our findings reveal that, despite its supposedly limited vocal learning, this species seems to exhibit fine-scale vocal adjustment, which implies some capacity to cope with anthropogenic noise. However, the lack of frequency shift suggests behavioural constraints that may compromise communication as the species uses low-pitched calls. This study provides insights into how some non-passerine birds may adjust their vocal sexual display to anthropogenic noise.
... Evidence of how animals respond to anthropogenic noise and the consequences of that exposure is ever accumulating (Jerem & Mathews, 2020;Shannon et al., 2016;Swaddle et al., 2015). Just as anthropogenic noise can alter predator-prey relationships (Gomes et al., 2016;Mason et al., 2016), animal communities (Francis et al., 2009(Francis et al., , 2011 and local abundance (Blickley et al., 2012;Bunkley et al., 2017;Cinto Mejia et al., 2019), it is likely that natural noise, of similar sound levels and spectra, has been doing this since the origins of hearing organs in animals. Thus, we expect intense natural acoustic environments to be a powerful and relevant ecological niche axis. ...
Article
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Novel anthropogenic noise has received considerable attention in behavioral ecology, but the natural acoustic environment has largely been ignored as a niche axis. Using arrays of speakers, we experimentally broadcasted whitewater river noise continuously for three summers, and monitored spider abundance and behavior across 15 sites, to test our hypothesis that river noise is an important structuring force as a niche axis. We find substantial evidence that orb‐weaving spiders (Araneidae and Tetragnathidae) are more abundant in high sound level environments, but are not affected by background noise spectrum. We explore multiple possible mechanisms underlying these patterns, such as loss of vertebrate predators and increased prey capture, and assess spider web‐building behavior and body condition in noise. Continued research on the natural and anthropogenic acoustic environment will likely reveal a web of connections hidden within this neglected ecological niche axis.
... We expect this to partially be a function of county roads being largely gravel surfaced and often occurred in upland areas of relatively higher elevation that are more likely used by lesser prairie-chickens (Lautenbach, 2015). Additionally, traffic volume on certain roads may dictate avoidance more than presence of the road itself (Blickley et al., 2012). ...
... We do acknowledge that event-based sound likely has fewer impacts to wildlife than continuous sound because the former is less pervasive, and these differences potentially provide an explanation for the bias towards continuous noise study designs. However, even though brief noise events have shorter term masking impacts than continuous sound sources, they have been shown to have fitness-relevant impacts on behaviours, for example causing territory abandonment, distracted foraging, increased stress hormone levels and reduced reproductive output (Blickley et al., 2012, but see Brown et al., 2012. ...
Article
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Human‐caused noise pollution dominates the soundscape of modern ecosystems, from urban centers to national parks. Though wildlife can generally alter their communication to accommodate many types of natural noise (e.g. wind, wave action, heterospecific communication), noise pollution from anthropogenic sources pushes the limits of wildlife communication flexibility by causing loud, low‐pitched, and near‐continuous interference. Because responses to noise pollution are variable and taxa‐specific, multi‐species risk assessments and mitigation are not currently possible. We conducted a meta‐analysis to synthesize noise pollution effects on terrestrial wildlife communication. Specifically, we assessed: 1) the impacts of noise pollution on modulation of call rate, duration, amplitude, and frequency (including peak, minimum, and maximum frequency); and 2) the literature on anthropogenic noise pollution by region, taxa, study design, and disturbance type. Terrestrial wildlife (results driven by avian studies) generally respond to noise pollution by calling with higher minimum frequencies, while they generally do not alter the amplitude, maximum frequency, peak frequency, duration, and rate of calling. The literature on noise pollution research is biased towards birds, population‐level studies, urban noise sources, and study systems in North America. Synthesis and applications Our study reveals the ways in which wildlife can alter their signals to contend with anthropogenic noise, and discusses the potential fitness and management consequences of these signal alterations. This information, combined with an identification of current research needs, will allow researchers and managers to better develop noise pollution risk assessment protocols and prioritize mitigation efforts to reduce anthropogenic noise.
... Nevertheless, we noted that those unoccupied cells were mostly located at lower elevations closer to human infrastructures (such as heavily trafficked roads) which might have been avoided by Rock Partridges, similarly to what has been observed in Wyoming for the Greater Sage Grouse Centrocercus urophasianus (Blickley et al. 2012) where abundance was lower in experimentally disturbed leks (29% and 74% for gas drilling and road sounds, respectively). Lastly, the conspicuous presence of feral pigs Sus scrofa domesticus, frequently detected by the cameras in some of these suitable cells , might be the cause for the apparent absence of this species via predation on nests (Oja et al. 2017). ...
Article
The assessment of the conservation status of a species is the first step to prevent local extinction and to plan appropriate, effective and scientifically sound conservation actions, hence knowledge of the distribution, population trends and characteristics of preferred habitat is crucial for the conservation of a species. Galliformes are facing increasing threats related to overhunting, habitat loss and fragmentation, and human disturbance. The Sicilian Rock Partridge (hereafter Rock Partridge) Alectoris graeca whitakeri is a significant conservation unit endemic to Sicily (Italy) classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN due to a decreasing population. Few studies have been conducted on the occurrence and population density of this subspecies. Here, we estimated its population density and identified which habitat factors drive the occurrence of this species on Mt. Etna. We used a combination of sampling methods (species- specific play-back calls, distance sampling, camera-trapping) to collect count and presence/absence data, which were then integrated into a single habitat model (presence vs. absence). We obtained 24 responses from play-back calls (plus 8 individuals observed while performing the play-back calls), 8 sightings from distance sampling, 6 detections from camera-trapping. Probability of occurrence of Rock Partridge on Mt. Etna was positively driven by shrub and meadow vegetation, whereas its occurrence decreased with an increase in both woody areas (coniferous and deciduous) and ele- vation. Population density estimated using play-back call data resulted in 0.80 pairs/km2 (95% CI: 0.17–2.22) over an area of 53.7 km2. The density of Rock Partridge on Mt. Etna appeared to have slightly declined and its distribution under- gone a contraction since the previous survey. Several potential threats to the Rock Partridge in Sicily are currently increasing and should be mitigated to ensure the long-term survival of this unique population on Mt. Etna, as well as in the whole island of Sicily.
... Owing to the reduced noise sources in the study area in the winter, the equivalent sound level was measured for 5 min, revealing that the background noise in the test area was lower than 50 dB. Noise playback [26][27][28] was used to simulate the sound of ship operations. Six noise level gradients were set: control group (ZR, background noise) and experimental group (60, 70, 80, 90, and 100 dB) obtained by adjusting the volume of the audio equipment 1 m away from the playback device. ...
Article
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Wild animals are vulnerable to environmental noise. In wetlands, wintering waterbirds are easily disturbed by ship noises; however, the behavioral changes of waterbirds in response to different levels of noise are unclear. We simulated the acoustic environment created by ship movement to investigate the effects of ship noise on foraging, vigilance, and flight behaviors of the wintering bean goose (Anser fabalis). In particular, we used a noise playback method to simulate the acoustic environment created by ship operations at various noise levels (i.e., background noise <50 dB, 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100 dB), distances from the noise (i.e., short <100 m, medium 100–200 m, and long distances 200–300 m), and noise duration (i.e., short 0–1 min, medium 2–3 min, and long 4–5 min). Results indicated that the noise intensity and interference distance had obvious influence on the bean geese behavior, but the noise duration had no effect. Smaller populations (N ≤ 30) were more sensitive to noise interference. As the noise level increased, the frequency of foraging behavior decreased and the frequencies of vigilance and flight behaviors increased, particularly above 70 dB. For noises >70 dB at short disturbance distances and >80 dB at medium disturbance distances, flight behavior increased significantly. These findings suggested that ships should keep a distance of more than 200 m from waterbirds to reduce noise interference.
... Predators respond to changes in habitat at multiple scales (Klug et al. 2009), predator response to habitat characteristics varies by species (Ellison et al. 2013), and different edge types may have different effects . Energy development fragments the landscape , alters habitat structure through the introduction of perches ) and exotic vegetation , and increases chronic noise levels Blickley et al. 2012). However, few studies have directly examined the effects of oil and natural gas development on reproduction and nest survival in grassland songbirds. ...
Thesis
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Over the past century, populations of North American grassland songbirds have declined sharply as a consequence of habitat destruction. Alberta's mixed-grass prairie constitutes Canada's largest remaining tract of native grassland. However, this region has recently undergone a rapid expansion of conventional oil and natural gas development, and few studies have documented its effects on songbird nesting success. During the 2012-2014 breeding seasons, I monitored 813 nests of grassland songbirds located at sites that varied with respect to presence/absence, distance from, and types of oil and gas infrastructure (pump jacks, screw pumps, compressor stations) and gravel roads. Nest survival was significantly lower at infrastructure sites relative to controls for both Savannah sparrow and vesper sparrow. Additionally, vesper sparrow nest density was greater within 100 m of structures. These findings suggest that habitat disturbance caused by infrastructure may result in increased frequencies of nest predation at multiple spatial scales. iii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
... Anthropogenic features such as roads, powerlines, residential buildings, and oil/gas wells negatively affect LEPC (Pitman et al., 2005;Pruett et al., 2009;Hagen et al., 2011;Tanner et al., 2020). A common hypothesis for these patterns is that these features present novel predation risks by facilitating hunting opportunities for predators through increased perch sites (Ellis, 1984;Lammers and Collopy, 2007) or increased noise masking (Blickley et al., 2012). Yet, novel predation risks (Lima et al., 2005) and anthropogenic pressures (light pollution [Ouyang et al., 2017]) may exist during periods of rest, potentially affecting the influence that anthropogenic features have on the LEPC and warranted a roost-specific analysis. ...
Article
All animals must select sites to rest and may spend a large portion of their lives doing so. Despite the importance of this period in their daily activity budget, we lack information about rest/roost ecology for most animals, including the imperiled lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus; hereafter “LEPC”). Therefore, we sought to identify how landcover, anthropogenic features, and human policy (i.e., presence of the Conservation Reserve Program [CRP]) influenced roost site selection and movement patterns of the LEPC. From March to May 2013-2015, we captured and fitted GPS transmitters to 106 LEPCs (n = 72 males; n = 34 females) within Beaver County, Oklahoma and recorded two nocturnal locations per 24-hour period, annually. We used discrete choice models and generalized linear mixed effects models to determine how vegetation cover, CRP patches, and anthropogenic features influenced roost site selection and movements to roosting sites, respectively. We found that roost sites were closer to CRP, leks, and croplands than would be expected at random. Conversely, roost sites were located farther away from shortgrass prairie, roads, and transmission lines than expected. The probability of a LEPC roosting in a location increased by 15% and 4.5% for every 36-meter decrease in distance to a CRP patch and distance to their lek of capture, respectively. Similarly, individuals roosting in CRP patches would travel shorter distances to get to roost sites if their last diurnal location was near CRP. Bird’s movements to roosts in CRP were 1.4 times shorter for every meter decrease in the distance of their last diurnal location to a CRP patch, indicating that individuals modify their movement based on CRP presence. Our results indicate that CRP is influential to roosting ecology of the LEPC within this region and may be meeting critical cover requirements.
... However, roads and energy development facilities are known to negative impact wildlife (Barber et al. 2011;Newman et al. 2014). Road noise can alter animal behavior, movement patterns, ability to find prey, and breeding processes (Reijnen and Foppen 2006;Bee and Swanson 2007;Barber et al. 2011;Siemers and Schaub 2011), while noises associated with energy development are often incessant and have been associated with increased levels of chronic stress on animals near these sites (Bayne et al. 2008;Barber et al. 2009;Francis et al. 2011b;Blickley et al. 2012;Souther et al. 2014). Some species are capable of adapting to long-term anthropogenic noise sources in their environment, while others cannot (Barber et al. 2010). ...
Technical Report
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A Natural Resources Condition Assessment (NRCA) was conducted for Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico, USA. Eleven natural resources (with 34 indicators) were identified and grouped into three broad categories: landscape-scale, supporting environment (i.e., physical resources), and biological integrity. This NRCA includes an assessment of condition and trend for key resources determined by assessing multiple indicators for each focal resource. Most indicators were identified as currently in good condition (13 indicators) or unknown/ data deficient warranting moderate concern (13). The most significantly impacted resources included air quality and the acoustic environment. Ozone effects on vegetation health were of significant concern, yet the trend could not be determined due to lack of long term data; additionally, the condition for “reduction in listening area” is deteriorating due to an increase in anthropogenic activities. Six indicators were identified as “moderate concern”, while the condition for haze index of air quality was identified as "improving".
... Not all species (in the application of this paper: plants, some small mammals, and carnivores) experience stress and species that are sensitive to the disturbance (elk, mule deer, and sage grouse) only experience stress when they are located inside the disturbed areas. The energetic losses from this stress are associated with different types of factors such as traffic, human presence, or noise that affect different species differently (Blickley et al., 2012). By assumption, ψ id = 0 before any economic activity or human disturbance is introduced into the ecosystem. ...
Article
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We use the General Equilibrium Ecosystem Model (GEEM) parameterized to Wyoming sagebrush to explore the impact of two common simplifications in bio-economic policy frameworks on species conservation decisions. First, we compare conservation policies based on 2-species food web models to those based on a more complex food web. We find that using the simpler model can miss opportunities for more conservation benefits in the presence of species interactions. Second, we define the impact of species dispersal costs on population distributions in a heterogenous landscape and explore conservation policies to reduce those costs to enable species to move away from disturbed areas. Conservation actions that reduce dispersal costs for all species reflect species interactions and thresholds that determine which species disperse.
... In other localities that organise festivals late in spring or early in summer, noisy disturbances could lead dependent fledglings to lose parental care, and thus it could increase their exposure to predation or starvation (Francis and Barber, 2013). They could also experience decreased immune response (Kight and Swaddle, 2011) and be forced to use unfavourable habitats (Blickley et al., 2012;Sordello et al., 2020). ...
Article
Noise is a pollutant of emergent concern for ecologists and conservation biologists. Recreational noise pollution, especially unpredictable and intermittent sounds, and its effects on wildlife and biodiversity have been poorly studied. Researchers have paid very little attention to the effect of noisy traditional festivals (fireworks and powder-guns). This study aimed to explore the effect of these recreational activities on the juvenile productivity of an urban avian bioindicator: the house sparrow. We studied five pairs of localities in the Valencia Region (E Spain) with noisy traditional festivals. Each pair was composed of one locality with festivals during the breeding season and the closest similar locality, but with festivals outside the reproductive period (controls). Both locality types were sampled twice each spring (May-June of 2019 and 2020). Sampling dates were selected as 15 and 30 days after noisy festivals ended, while the control localities were sampled 1 day after the census of their correspondent town pair with noisy breeding season festivals. The ratio of the juveniles/adults detected during surveys in the influence area of festivals (100-metre buffer around the parades route) was used as a house sparrow breeding success proxy. Data were analysed using GLMM: year (2019/2020), festivals season (breeding/non-breeding), survey (15/30 days), and their interactions where included as fixed factors. Pair of localities and locality nested within the pair were random factors. In 2019, juvenile productivity was lower in the towns with noisy traditional festivals during the breeding season than in the control towns. The 2020 festivals were cancelled due to COVID-19. In spring 2020, house sparrow juvenile productivity was the same in both town groups. Lockdown did not increase this species’ juvenile productivity in the control localities in 2020 versus 2019.
... Males gather around traditional leks and produce visual and acoustic signals to attract females, which may be masked by the noise of WEF and could influence mating success. Noise generated by wind turbines has been shown to affect vocalizations of lekking male greater prairie-chicken (Whalen et al. 2018(Whalen et al. , 2019, and also greater sage-grouse abundance at leks decreased with experimental intermittent noise created by gas rigs and their access roads (Blickley et al. 2012). Indeed, turbine noise had by far the strongest effects during the lekking season (Fig. 2), although the model for noise had considerably less support (i.e. ...
Article
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The recent increase in wind energy facilities (WEF) has led to concerns about their effect on wildlife. While the focus of most studies has mainly been on increased mortality of birds and bats due to collision, indirect effects, such as behavioural responses, are currently gaining attention. Indeed, effects of WEF on the behaviour of forest dwelling wildlife still remain largely unknown. Using GPS-tracking of 16 individuals, we studied how seasonal resource selection of the capercaillie Tetrao urogallus, a forest grouse species known as sensitive to disturbance by human presence and infrastructure, was related to wind turbines and other environmental covariates in a wind farm in Sweden. During the lekking season, the probability of site-selection by capercaillie decreased with increasing turbine noise, turbine visibility and turbine shadow. During summer, we found reduced resource selection with increasing proximity to the turbines (up to 865 m), turbine density, noise, shadow and visibility. Furthermore, we found an avoidance of turbine access roads. Due to the high collinearity of the wind turbine predictors it was not possible to identify the specific mechanism causing turbine avoidance. Our study reveals that forest dwelling species with known sensitivity to other forms of human disturbance (i.e. recreation) are also likely to be affected by wind turbine presence. In addition, we provide proximity thresholds below which effects are likely to be present as a basis for conservation planning.
... Noise that is less predictable or regular is likely more distracting (Glass and Singer 1972, Matthews et al. 1980, Kjellberg et al. 1996, and noise that is intermittent may be more likely to be stressful than continuous noise (Neo et al. 2014, Debusschere et al. 2016. Greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) more strongly avoid intermittent, rather than continuous, roadway noise (Blickley et al. 2012). Fish that exhibit a stress-induced change in swimming depth take longer to recover to a normal depth in intermittent (compared with continuous) noise, which the authors suggest is because of the difficulty of habituating to intermittent noise (Neo et al. 2014). ...
Article
Anthropogenic noise has received significant attention in recent years, and researchers have highlighted the ways in which animals might deal with these noise sources. However, much of our understanding of animal responses to this novel source of background acoustics lacks an evolutionary perspective. Natural sources of noise predate the origin of hearing organs in animals. Therefore, it is unlikely that animals have only recently evolved strategies to cope with anthropogenic noise de novo but, rather, already have preexisting coping mechanisms, because of countless generations of evolution within a naturally noisy world, on which contemporary selection is now likely acting. We review strategies to cope with natural sources of noise and suggest a more quantitative and mechanistic understanding of how particular characteristics of noise have shaped animal populations and communities in the past, enabling us to predict the effects that novel sources of noise will have on the future.
... A primary confounding variable is that the noise is usually also associated with many physical changes to the environment including changes in the vegetation, increases in impervious surfaces, and habitat fragmentation, making it difficult to isolate the effects of noise from other disturbances that are occurring simultaneously. Some researchers have been able to address this with experimental studies specifically designed to isolate noise effects from other associated sources of disturbance (Blickley et al. 2012, Cinto-MeJia et al. 2019. ...
Article
Natural gas compressor stations emit loud, low-frequency noise that travels hundreds of meters into undisturbed habitat. We used experimental playback of natural gas compressor noise to determine whether and how noise influenced settlement decisions and reproductive output as well as when in the nesting cycle birds were most affected by compressor noise. We established 80 nest boxes to attract Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) and Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) to locations where they had not previously nested and experimentally introduced shale gas compressor noise to half the boxes while the other 40 boxes served as controls. Our experimental design allowed us to control for the confounding effects of both physical changes to the environment associated with compressor stations as well as site tenacity or the tendency for birds to return to the specific locations where they had previously bred. We incorporated behavioral observations with video cameras placed within boxes to determine how changes in behavior might lead to any noted changes in fitness. Neither species demonstrated a preference for box type (quiet or noisy), and there was no difference in clutch size between box types. In both species, we observed a reduction in incubation time, hatching success, and fledging success (proportion of all eggs that fledged) between quiet and noisy boxes but no difference in provisioning rates. Nest success (probability of fledging at least one young; calculated from all nests that were initiated) was not affected by noise in either species suggesting that noise did not increase rates of either depredation or abandonment but instead negatively impacted fitness through reduced hatching and fledging success. Compressor noise caused behavioral changes that led to reduced reproductive success; for Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows, gas infrastructure can create an equal-preference ecological trap where birds do not distinguish between lower and higher quality territories even when they incur fitness costs.
... Although it has not been explicitly tested, noise from these sources has the potential to impact animals in similar ways to those described with airborne or waterborne anthropogenic noise. Impacts include masking (Francis et al., 2011), physiological stress (Blickley et al., 2012), or disrupting learning and memory (Benfield et al., 2010). ...
Article
Many human activities produce sound (e.g. airborne, waterborne, and substrate-borne waves), or anthropogenic noise, that can be a novel stimulus for many animals and is widely recognized as an issue of environmental concern. Substrate-borne noise in particular, might be especially harmful to animals that can sense and communicate using substrate-borne waves. One way anthropogenic noise can be harmful is by distracting animals from important tasks, like providing parental care to offspring. We investigated if substrate-borne sound from traffic distracts mason spiders (Castianeira sp.) from the essential task of building mounds to protect their egg sacs. We conducted 60 trials across 4 treatments to examine the effects of noise and the consequences to offspring survival. Preliminary analyses indicate that noise has impacts on behavior and underlines the necessity of investigating impacts of anthropogenic activities on a variety of animals including invertebrates. Featured photo by Tom on Flickr. https://flic.kr/p/2gsitFz
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Energy is an integral part of society. The major US energy sources of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas); biofuels (ethanol); and wind are concentrated in grassland ecosystems of the Great Plains. As energy demand continues to increase, mounting pressures will be placed on North American grassland systems. In this review, we present the ecological effects of energy development and production on grassland systems. We then identify opportunities to mitigate these effects during the planning, construction, and production phases by using informed methodology and improved technology. Primary effects during energy development include small- and large-scale soil disturbance and vegetation removal as small patches of grasslands are used to host oil or gas wells, wind turbine pads, associated roadways, and pipelines or through the conversion of large grassland areas to biofuel croplands. Direct habitat loss or habitat fragmentation can affect wildlife directly through increased mortality or indirectly through reduction in habitat quantity and quality. During energy production, air and water quality can be affected through regular emissions or unplanned spills. Energy development can also affect the economy and health of local communities. During planning, energy development and production effects can be reduced by carefully considering effects on grasslands during siting and even by selecting different energy source types. During construction, effects on soil and plant systems can be minimized by eliminating weed populations before disturbance, salvaging and stockpiling topsoil for future revegetation, and harvesting native local seed for postsite restoration. During energy production operations, noise and road traffic reduction plans and atmospheric monitoring will enable more informed mitigation measures. Continued research on energy development effects and mitigation measures is necessary to establish best management practices beneficial to grassland health while providing needed energy for the United States.
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This synthesis presents an update of a prior publication summarizing effects of management practices on greater sage-grouse. Topics include area requirements, suitable habitat, site fidelity, and species' response to fire, grazing, pesticides and herbicides, energy and urban development, and translocation. It concludes with management recommendations, and provides a ready resource of primary literature.
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Airports can affect birds by hindering acoustic communication. Here, we investigated the impacts of aircraft events on vocal behavior in wood thrush ( Hylocichla mustelina ) breeding one mile from an airport in Ithaca, NY, USA. We identified the number of wood thrush songs between 0500 and 0800 h at various distances from the airport and on days with various morning flight schedules. We also analyzed the number of sites from which birds sang during the peak of aircraft events (proxy of number of wood thrush). We found that birds sang more from 0600 to 0640 h when there were aircraft events during this period. This increased vocal behavior is likely explained by increased song output per individual wood thrush, rather than more wood thrush vocalizing. Increased song rate may negatively affect wood thrush fitness through increased energetic demands and/or time tradeoffs with other important behaviors, such as foraging. Identifying the noise thresholds associated with fitness costs (if any) and how different behavioral strategies (i.e. changing the pattern of vocalizations) may allow individuals to evade these costs would be useful for establishing conservation policy in breeding habitats used by passerines, such as the wood thrush.
Article
Impacts of noise pollution are recognized as a source of stress for animals and as a form of environmental degradation. Behavioural changes associated with noise, such as reduction of reproductive success, reduction in feeding behaviour, increase in vigilance behaviours and inability to detect environment acoustic signals, are observed. The aim of the present study was to evaluate how noise influences aggressive behaviour of the saffron finch (Sicalis flaveola). We conducted tests of territoriality-aggressiveness against conspecifics. Seven individuals were tested, with six tests per individual being conducted in two treatments (traffic pollution and ambient noise), totalling 84 tests. The noise treatment significantly altered the agonistic interactions of the saffron finches, with territorial males exhibiting less aggressive behaviours towards intruders.
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Anthropogenic disturbances induce stress in a variety of urban species. We examined the effects of traffic noise on the physiological stress response of nestling European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Nest boxes were randomly assigned to either an experimental (increased urban noise played in nest box) or a control (typical urban/ambient noise) group. Heterophil/lymphocyte (H/L) ratios were determined to estimate physiological stress of nestlings at 11 and 15 days of age. Higher H/L ratios are associated with increased stress responses in birds. We predicted that nestlings in the experimental treatment would have higher H/L ratios and lower condition and fledging success than those in the control group on both days 11 and 15, but we detected no such differences on either day. Day 15 experimental nestlings, however, showed a non-significant trend toward lower H/L ratios than did day 15 control nestlings. We also examined whether nestlings became habituated (lower H/L ratios on day 15 than day 11) or sensitized (higher H/L ratios on day 15) to urban noise over time. There was a non-significant trend for experimental nestlings to have lower H/L ratios on day 15 than day 11, but no such pattern was detected in control nestlings. Our findings suggest that constant traffic noise is not stressful to nestlings in this urban-thriving species.
Chapter
Environmental pollution is a global phenomenon that affects all continents and dozens of types of pollutants with highly different properties can be found on Earth. These pollutants may result in detrimental environmental conditions with clear negative effects on fitness, but they can also induce more pernicious and subtle effects by triggering maladaptive responses to environmental conditions. Importantly, the impact of pollutants on organismal systems is often also exacerbated during the developmental stage. Indeed, developmental conditions are known to affect the ontogeny of multiple integrative organismal systems, and notably the ontogeny of stress-coping mechanisms. These mechanisms involve cognition, the fight or flight response and the HPA axis; they are crucial to consider in the context of pollution because they govern the ability of the individual to adjust to the environmental perturbations that may arise from physical pollutants. In addition, they may also be disrupted by chemical pollutants, resulting in a maladaptive response to environmental conditions and in pathologies. In this chapter, we first provide an example of how developmental exposure to a chemical pollutant (lead, Pb) may disrupt stress-coping mechanisms with detrimental consequences later in life. Then, we illustrate the impact of physical pollutants on performance by focusing on the example of noise pollution. We especially aim to highlight the importance of stress-coping mechanisms and their flexibility in determining the ability of individuals to cope with noise pollution. Finally, we propose several avenues of research to better understand how wild species may adapt to this polluted world. We emphasize (1) the importance of considering the cumulative and interactive effects of physical and chemical pollutants on stress-coping mechanisms and performance; (2) the potential importance of priming hormesis in adjusting the functioning and the flexibility of stress-coping mechanisms to a polluted environment; (3) the need to consider microevolution to assess whether selection acts on stress-coping mechanisms and favors specific stress-coping traits that are beneficial in a polluted world.
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Anthropogenic noise exposure has well-documented behavioral, physiological and fitness effects on organisms. However, whether different noise regimes evoke distinct responses has rarely been investigated, despite implications for tailoring noise mitigation policies. Urban animals might display low responsiveness to certain anthropogenic noise regimes, especially consistent noise (e.g. freeway noise), but might remain more sensitive to more diverse noise regimes. Additionally, whether individuals differ in noise sensitivity is a rarely explored issue, which is important to fully understand organismal responses to noise. To address these knowledge gaps, we used a field experiment to measure how urban great tits (Parus major) altered parental behaviors in response to two noise regimes: consistent freeway noise, and a diverse anthropogenic noise regime that incorporated variability in noise type and temporal occurrence. We also evaluated whether sex, age, or a well-described personality trait, novel environment exploration behavior, were associated with responses to noise, although our power to assess individual differences in responses was somewhat limited. We found no evidence for mean population-level changes in nestling provisioning behaviors during either noise treatment. However, despite this overall canalization of behavior, there was evidence for individual differences in noise sensitivity, particularly during the diverse noise treatment. Females and birds that explored a novel environment more rapidly (fast explorers) reduced nestling provisioning rate more relative to baseline levels than males and slow explorers during the diverse urban noise, but not during the consistent freeway noise. Furthermore, first year breeders and fast explorers displayed larger increases in latency to return to the nest box relative to baseline conditions during the diverse noise only. Results suggest that urban animal populations might become overall tolerant to anthropogenic noise, but that certain individuals within these populations nonetheless remain sensitive to certain types of noise exposure. Capsule In an urban songbird, we found no population-level changes in nestling provisioning behavior during noise exposure, but did find evidence for individual differences in noise sensitivity.
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Biological sounds play an important role in activities ranging from territory defense to mate choice to predator avoidance to foraging. Anthropogenic noise can mask these sounds, potentially altering the habitat selection, activity patterns, phenology, and physiology of wildlife species. For example, cannabis (Cannabis sativa or C. indica) cultivation may increase levels of anthropogenic noise given the use of diesel generators, irrigation pumps, and landscaping equipment. To predict how noises associated with cannabis cultivation may influence wildlife in California, we review scientific literature assessing the influences of anthropogenic noise on various species of mammals, birds, herpetofauna, and invertebrates. We then outline potential noises associated with cannabis cultivation and why they may be unique on the landscape and provide recommendations on future research needs.
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Abstract Energy development is one of the most rapidly increasing land uses in North America, so understanding how wildlife respond to different types of energy infrastructure is crucial for informing land‐use policies. Effects of energy development on wildlife habitat use and selection can vary depending on infrastructure type, level of industrial activity, and density. I examined seasonal habitat use and selection of greater sage‐grouse in relation to energy development in a high‐elevation oil and gas field in western Colorado by linking spatially and temporally explicit energy infrastructure layers with telemetry locations of marked females from 2006 to 2014. Objectives were to (1) quantify energy infrastructure around seasonal use locations; (2) examine how seasonal resource selection is affected by energy infrastructure with disturbed versus reclaimed surface and different levels of industrial activity; and (3) assess current surface disturbance and infrastructure density caps. Between 92% and 97% of seasonal use locations had 1.1%–2.5% disturbed surface during breeding and winter and selected locations with lower densities of active energy features during breeding and roads in winter. Density caps of one active energy feature and 1.5 mi (2.41 km) of road per section were adequate to prevent avoidance except during the breeding season. Disturbance caps should be set at 1.1% disturbed surface and 1.8% total anthropogenic surface in breeding habitat and 2.5% disturbed surface and 3.5% total anthropogenic surface in winter habitat to minimize negative impacts on female habitat selection in this population. Results also support timing restrictions on construction and drilling during breeding and rapid transitioning of well pads from drilling to production.
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The effect of the social environment on individual state or condition has largely focused on glucocorticoid levels (GCs). As metabolic hormones whose production can be influenced by nutritional, physical, or psychosocial stressors, GCs are a valuable (though singular) measure that may reflect the degree of “stress” experienced by an individual. Most work to date has focused on how social rank influences GCs in group-living species or how predation risk influences GCs in prey. This work has been revealing, but a more comprehensive assessment of the social environment is needed to fully understand how different features of the social environment influence GCs in both group living and non-group living species and across life history stages. Just as there can be intense within-group competition among adult conspecifics, it bears appreciating there can also be competition among siblings from the same brood, among adult conspecifics that do not live in groups, or among heterospecifics. In these situations, dominance hierarchies typically emerge, albeit, do dominants or subordinate individuals or species have higher GCs? We examine the degree of support for hypotheses derived from group-living species about whether differential GCs between dominants and subordinates reflect the “stress of subordination” or “costs of dominance” in these other social contexts. By doing so, we aim to test the generality of these two hypotheses and propose new research directions to broaden the lens that focuses on social hierarchies and GCs.
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Leks often attract predators as well as mates, yet most evolutionary models have assumed that sexual selection, not predation, drives lekking behavior. We explored the influence of predation on lek dynamics using a stochastic dynamic game model based on the lek-breeding greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) and its principal avian predator, the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). The model predicts time-dependent male lek attendance as a function of factors affecting both mating success (female arrival rate, male numbers, and social status) and predation risk (eagle arrival rate and group size). Dominant males are predicted to arrive sooner and leave later than subordinates, especially if mating skew is high, predation risk is low, or the relationship between lek size and female arrival rate is weak. Both high mean levels of predation risk and small lek size should reduce lek attendance, but the relative tendency of predators to attack large versus small leks has little influence on predicted lekking behavior. Field observations confirmed the predicted effects of female arrival rate, lek size, male dominance, and weather-dependent predator arrival rates on lek departure times. Predicted effects of female arrival rates and male dominance on seasonal lek attendance were also supported. Our model provides an empirically supported adaptive explanation for short-term lek dynamics. It also suggests alternative interpretations for phenomena previously invoked to support the hotshot and skew models of lek formation.
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Many landscapes underlying military designated air spaces have been established as national parks, wildlife refuges, or wilderness areas. The juxtaposition of public, wilderness, and military uses has led to questions of compatibility between aircraft and wildlife. We evaluated the effects of simulated low-altitude jet aircraft noise on the behavior and heart rate of captive desert mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus crooki) (n = 6) and mountain sheep (Ovis canadensis mexicana) (n = 5). We measured heart rate and behavior related to the number of simulated overflights per day (range = 1-7) and noise levels (range = 92-112 decibels [dB]) that animals were exposed to. We compared heart rates and behavior of mountain sheep and desert mule deer before, during, and after simulated overflights (n = 112 overflights/season) during 3 seasons. The heart rates of ungulates increased related to dB levels during simulated overflights (P less than or equal to 0.05), but they returned to pre-disturbance levels in 60-180 seconds. Animal behavior also changed during overflights but returned to pre-disturbance conditions in <252 seconds (P less than or equal to 0.005) All animal responses decreased with increased exposure suggesting that they habituated to simulated sound levels of low-altitude aircraft.
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Roads may effect animal communities in various ways. One such way is ‘di sturbance’, i.e. emission of stimuli to which animals may respond by avoiding the vicinity of the road. The extent, intensity and mechanism of this effect is almost entirely unknown. Veen (1973), studying the bird species lapwing Vanellus vanellus, black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa, oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus, redshank Tringa totanus and ruff Philomachus pugnax in open grassland areas, found disturbance over surprisingly long distances, ranging from 500–600 m for a quiet rural road to 1600–1800m for a busy highway. However, his approach has met with serious methodological criticism.The validity of Veen's conclusions was tested by critically reanalysing bird distribution in one of his study plots. It is inferred that his conclusions do hold for the lapwing, the godwit and possibly the redshank, though not for the oystercatcher. An additional field study in four areas yielded similar results, with comparable disturbance distances. The total population loss over this distance may amount to 60%. Rough indications were obtained that the distance-density graph is a logistic one, while the relation between traffic volume and total population loss is possibly logarithmic. In addition confirmation was obtained of the general impression that, apart from roads, disturbance may also be caused by farms, other buildings and plantations, suggesting that disturbance caused by a road is not easily eliminated by planting trees alongside.It is recommended that extra care be taken in planning new roads, while impact statements concerning roads which disregard disturbance and other long-distance effects on the fauna should be rejected.
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Modification of landscapes due to energy development may alter both habitat use and vital rates of sensitive wildlife species. Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in the Powder River Basin (PRB) of Wyoming and Montana, USA, have experienced rapid, widespread changes to their habitat due to recent coal-bed natural gas (CBNG) development. We analyzed lek-count, habitat, and infrastructure data to assess how CBNG development and other landscape features influenced trends in the numbers of male sage-grouse observed and persistence of leks in the PRB. From 2001 to 2005, the number of males observed on leks in CBNG fields declined more rapidly than leks outside of CBNG. Of leks active in 1997 or later, only 38% of 26 leks in CBNG fields remained active by 2004-2005, compared to 84% of 250 leks outside CBNG fields. By 2005, leks in CBNG fields had 46% fewer males per active lek than leks outside of CBNG. Persistence of 110 leks was positively influenced by the proportion of sagebrush habitat within 6.4 km of the lek. After controlling for habitat, we found support for negative effects of CBNG development within 0.8 km and 3.2 km of the lek and for a time lag between CBNG development and lek disappearance. Current lease stipulations that prohibit development within 0.4 km of sage-grouse leks on federal lands are inadequate to ensure lek persistence and may result in impacts to breeding populations over larger areas. Seasonal restrictions on drilling and construction do not address impacts caused by loss of sagebrush and incursion of infrastructure that can affect populations over long periods of time. Regulatory agencies may need to increase spatial restrictions on development, industry may need to rapidly implement more effective mitigation measures, or both, to reduce impacts of CBNG development on sage-grouse populations in the PRB.
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Electricity-generating wind turbines are an attractive energy source because they are renewable and produce no emissions. However, they have at least two potentially damaging ecological effects. Their rotating blades are hazardous to raptors which occasionally fly into them. And wind turbines are very noisy when active, a feature that may interfere with the lives of animals beneath them. We studied California ground squirrels (Spermophilus beecheyi) in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area of Northern California. These squirrels emit vocalizations that alert others to the presence of a predator, and so may be forced to compensate for turbine noise by modifying antipredator behavior. We compared the antipredator behavior of squirrels at two sites, one close to and the other far from turbines, and under two conditions, during baseline and playback of conspecific alarm calls. We generated composite two variables using principle components analysis, one representing vigilance and one representing another cautionary antipredator tactic, for further statistical comparisons. Animals at the Turbine site exhibited elevated levels of vigilance and showed increased caution demonstrated in part, by returning to the area near their burrows during alarm calling. We conclude that this site difference is probably caused by the disparity in turbine noise, since predator abundance, group size, and vegetation type and density were similar for the two sites. Though population level impacts of these behavioral differences remain to be explored, our results indicate that behavioral impacts of turbines on wildlife should be considered during future turbine development.
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In view of an extensive road system, abundant and rapidly growing vehicular traffic, and a scattered literature indicating that some ecological effects of roads extend outward for >100 m, it seems likely that the cumulative ecological effect of the road system in the United States is considerable. Two recent studies in The Netherlands and Massachusetts ( U.S.A.) evaluated several ecological effects of roads, including traffic noise effects, and provide quantitative evidence for a definable “road-effect zone.” Based on the approximate width of this asymmetric convoluted zone, I estimate that about one-fifth of the U.S. land area is directly affected ecologically by the system of public roads. I identify a series of assumptions and variables suggesting that over time this preliminary estimate is more likely to rise than drop. Several transportation planning and policy recommendations, ranging from perforating the road barrier for wildlife crossings to closing certain roads, offer promise for reducing this enormous ecological effect.
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In this paper, we report on breeding site fidelity for a small, localized population of greater sage-grouse Centrocercus urophasianus inhabiting a highly altered and fragmented landscape in north-central Washington, USA. One hundred sixteen greater sage-grouse were captured, fitted with radio transmitters and monitored during 1992-1998. Of 19 males captured as adults and nine captured as yearlings, one and four, respectively, were observed visiting two different leks. Of 78 females, 24 were observed visiting at least two leks, and eight visited at least three leks. Although the incidence of multiple lek visitation was similar to what has been reported for other regions, the average of 10.2 km distance between neighbouring leks was substantially further in north-central Washington. Average distance between a female's first nest and her renest was higher for yearlings (6.3 km) than for adults (2.0 km). Successful females moved an average of 1.6 km and unsuccessful females moved 5.2 km to nest in subsequent years. Most distances between consecutive nests were < 3.0 km, but some females, including adults, moved > 20 km. These data suggest that fidelity of greater sage-grouse to nesting areas in north-central Washington is substantially lower than has been found for other populations. Although the relationship between behaviour of greater sage-grouse and regional habitat fragmentation is a possible explanation for these observations, we were not able to detect a correlation between fidelity and local habitat availability.
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Traffic noise is known to have a negative impact on bird populations in general, but little is known about the mechanisms by which sound pollution affects bird communities. However, a knowledge of these mechanisms is imperative if we want to account for the differences in susceptibility to traffic noise that exist between species, and may thus be critical for conservation action. To address this issue, population assessments were carried out in a contiguous area of oak-beech forest at differing distances from a much frequented motorway to determine the road effect on the whole bird community. As expected, species richness and diversity decreased towards the motorway, and bird abundance was significantly lower along the motorway than in the control area. However, a few species defied the negative impact of the motorway. The songs of the more abundant passerines were analysed with regard to three frequency parameters to determine whether or not a relationship exists between the song pitch of a species and its sensitivity to noise pollution. A significant relationship was found between dominant frequency and decline in abundance towards the motorway, which indicates that having a higher-pitched song with frequencies well above those of traffic noise makes a bird less susceptible to noise pollution. These results suggest that acoustic masking is one of the mechanisms by which traffic noise negatively affects passerine density along roads.