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Large‐scale manipulation of the acoustic environment can alter the abundance of breeding birds: Evidence from a phantom natural gas field

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Abstract

1.Altered animal distributions are a consequence of human expansion and development. Anthropogenic noise can be an important predictor of abundance declines near human infrastructure, yet more information is needed to understand noise impacts at the spatial and temporal scales necessary to alter populations. 2.Energy development and associated anthropogenic noise are globally pervasive, and expanding. For example, 600,000 new natural gas wells have been drilled across central North America in less than twenty years. 3.We experimentally broadcast energy sector noise (recordings of compressor engines) in Southwest Idaho (USA). We placed arrays of speakers creating a “phantom natural gas field” in a large‐scale experiment and tested the effects of noise alone on breeding songbird abundance. To examine variation in human‐caused noise, we broadcast two types of compressor noise, one with a slightly higher sound intensity and greater bandwidth than the other. 4.Our phantom natural gas field encompassed approximately 100 km2. We broadcast noise over three continuous months, for each of two seasons, and quantified over 20,000 hours of background sound levels. 5.Brewer's sparrows (Spizella breweri) were affected by our narrowband playback, declining 30% 50 m from the speaker arrays. During our broadband playback, all species combined and Brewer's sparrows decreased 20% and 33% respectively at the scale of our sites (~0.5 km2; up to 400 m from speaker arrays). 6.Synthesis and applications. Our results show the importance of incorporating the acoustic structure of noise when estimating the cost of noise exposure for populations. We suggest an urgent need for noise mitigation, such as quieting compressor stations, in energy extraction fields and other sources in natural areas broadly. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
J Appl Ecol. 2019;00:1–11. wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/jpe  
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© 2019 The Authors. Journal of Applied Ecology
© 2019 British Ecological Society
Received:25Novemb er2018 
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  Accepted:4May2019
DOI:10.1111/1365-2664.13449
RESEARCH ARTICLE
Large‐scale manipulation of the acoustic environment can alter
the abundance of breeding birds: Evidence from a phantom
natural gas field
Elizeth Cinto Mejia1| Christopher J. W. McClure1,2 | Jesse R. Barber1
1Depar tmentofBiologi calSci ences,Boise
StateUniversit y,Boise,Idaho
2ThePeregrineFund,Boise,Idaho
Correspondence
ElizethCintoMejia
Email:elizethcinto@gmail.com
JesseR .Barber
Email:jessebarber@boisestate.edu
Funding information
Nationa lParkSe rvice,Grant/Award
Number :CESUPl3AC01172;Directorate
forBiologicalS cience s(NSF),Grant /Award
Number :CNH1414171
HandlingEditor :VitorPaiva
Abstract
1. Alteredanimaldistributionsareaconsequenceofhumanexpansionanddevelop-
ment.Anthropogenicnoisecanbeanimportantpredictorofabundancedeclines
nearhuman infrastructure, yet moreinformation is needed to understandnoise
impactsatthespatialandtemporalscalesnecessarytoalterpopulations.
2. Energydevelopment andassociated anthropogenic noiseareglobally pervasive,
and expand ing. For example, 60 0,000 n ew natural gas wells have be en drilled
acrosscentralNorthAmericainlessthan20years.
3. Weexperimentallybroadcastenergysector noise(recordingsofcompressoren-
gines)inSouthwest Idaho (USA).Weplaced arraysof speakerscreatinga‘phan-
tomnaturalgasfield’inalarge-scale experimentandtested theeffects ofnoise
alone on breeding songbird abundance.To examine variationin human-caused
noise, we broa dcast two ty pes of compressor n oise, one with a slightl y higher
soundintensityandgreaterbandwidththantheother.
4. Ourphantomnaturalgas fieldencompassedapproximately 100km2. We broad-
castnoiseoverthreecontinuousmonths,foreachoftwoseasons,andquantified
over20,000hrofbackgroundsoundlevels.
5. Brewer's sparrows (Spizella breweri) were affected byour narrowband playback,
declining30%,50mfromthespeakerarrays.Duringourbroadbandplayback,all
species combinedandBrewer'ssparrows decreased20%and33%,respectively,
atthescaleofoursites(~0.5km2;upto400mfromspeakerarrays).
6. Synthesis and applications.Ourresults show the importanceof incorporatingthe
acousticstructureofnoisewhenestimatingthecostofnoiseexposureforpopula-
tions.Wesuggestanurgentneedfornoisemitigation,suchasquietingcompres-
sorst at ions,inener gyextra ctionf ie ldsandothersourcesinnaturalareasbroadly.
KEY WORDS
anthropogenicnoise,noiseexposure,noisepollution,oilandgasdevelopment,populations,
sagebrushsteppe,sensoryecology,songbirdabundance
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Journal of Applied Ecology
CINTO MEJ IA ET Al .
1 | INTRODUCTION
From urban a reas (Barber, Croo ks, & Fristru p, 2010) to the deep-
estoceantrench(Dziaketal.,2015),anthropogenicnoiseisubiqui-
tous.Extensiveliteraturedocuments the negativeeffects ofnoise
on foragi ng efficie ncy, surviv al, distri bution and re product ive suc-
cessofwildlife(see reviews Francis&Barber,2013;Shannonetal.,
2016). Recent stu dies have exper imentall y broadca st noise to dis-
entangletheroleoftheacousticenvironmentfromothercovarying
factorsassociatedwithhumandisturbance(e.g.directdeaths, edge
effec ts, chemi cal pollut ion). For exampl e, playback of in termitten t
trafficnoiseandcontinuousdrillingnoisereducedmalesagegrouse
(Centrocercus urophasianus)lekattendanceby73%and29%respec-
tively (Blickley, Blackwood,& Patricelli, 2012).An experiment that
replicatedthesoundscapeofahighwaydemonstratedthatmoder-
ately inten se (~55dBA , 24 hr Leq at 50 m) acousti c environment s
can alter bird distributions (McClure, Ware, Carlisle, Kaltenecker,
& Barber, 2013), change the age structure of a bird community
(McClure,Ware, Carlisle, & Barber,2016)andthwartthe abilit y of
birds to gain weight during migratory stopover (Ware, McClure,
Carlisle,&Barber,2015).
Energyextractionisa globallydistributed, and rapidlyexpanding
source of noi se (Bentley, 200 2). For example , 50,00 0 new wells per 
yearhavebeen drilledthroughoutcentral North America since 2000
(Allre d et al., 2015). Energ y extrac tion fields ca use habitat los s and
fragmentation,andbringroadsandotherpermanentinfrastructureto
thelandsca pe(McDonal d,Fargione,Kie secker,Miller,&Powell,2009).
Consequently,energ yex traction fields reduce songbird abundance,
alternestingsuccessandchangelargemammalspaceuseandbehaviour
(Northrup & Wittemyer,2013). Tounderstand theroleofenerg yex-
tractionnoiseinthesemultimodaleffects,previousstudieshavetaken
adv antageofvariatio ninsoundlevelscreat edb ydi ff erentty pe sofen-
ergyextractioninfrastructure:loudcompressorstations(enginesthat
maintainpressureinpipelines)andquieterwell pads.Comparingbird
communitiesnearthesetypesofinfrastructure,Bayneandcolleagues
(Bayne, Ha bib, & Boutin , 2008) s howed that den sity and occ upancy
ratesofseveralsongbirdspeciesdecreasednearloudcompressorsta-
tions in th e Canadian bo real forest . Francis and cowo rkers descri be
similar patterns in a naturalgasfield in New Mexico;they report de-
creasedsongbirdspeciesrichness nearloudgas compressorstations
(Francis, Ortega, & Cruz, 2009), which altered ecosystem services
suchas pollinationandseeddispersal(Francis,Kleist,Ortega,&Cruz,
2012). Furth er work in the s ame gas field h as documente d reduced
bat acti vity (Bunkl ey, McClur e, Kleist, Fran cis, & Barber, 2015), and 
alteredarthropoddistributions(Bunkley,McClure,Kawahara,Francis,
&Barber,2017).Inthesenaturalexperiments,there were otherun-
measur edf ac torss uchasa irp ollut ion(Roy,Ada ms,&Ro binson,2 014),
andpresenceofadditionalpowerlinesatcompressorstations(Braun,
Oedekoven, & Aldridge, 20 02) that may have influenced the results.
Regardlessofc aveats,these studies strongly indicate that the causal
factorsbehindtheseecologicalimpactsarelikelynoisemediated.
Due to the importance of understanding the scale of noise
effects, and the significant and expanding footprint of energy
extraction noise globally, we aimed to experimentally test thein-
flu enceofcompres sorstat ionno iseonlar ge-sc al espac eus eduring
thebreedingseason ,acr iti caltimeforwildlife.Wecreateda‘phan-
tomnaturalgasfield’withspeakerarraysbroadcastingcompressor
noise on a spatial scalelarge enough(sites distributedacross 100
km2)andatemporalscalelongenough (anentirebreedingseason)
toalterpopul ations.Bec aus esoundp ropagationvarieswithtopog-
raphy and ove r time due to cha nging atmos pheric con ditions, we
were able tocreate a gradientofnoise exposure across sites and
time (see Figures 1d and 2). We conducted ourexperiment in the
sagebrushsteppe,anecosystemthathassufferedrapidalterations
du eto h uma n exp a nsi o nan d dis t u rba n ce( K nic k eta l .,2 0 0 3), inc l u d-
ingwidespreadenergyextraction(Northrup&Wittemyer,2013).
Based on economic incentives and resource properties, ex-
traction fields contain many types of compressor stations (U.S.
Energy Information Administration, 2007) that produce dif ferent
spectralbandwidths(therangeoffrequenciescontainedinasound
source) and associated sound levels (Francis, Paritsis, Ortega, &
Cruz, 2011). Give n this variatio n, we replicate d two distinc tly dif-
ferentnoiseprofiles,onemorebroadbandandhigherintensit ythan
theother(Figure1).Wepredictedthatplaybackofcompressorsta-
tionnoiseofbroaderbandwidthandintensitywouldhaveagreater
negativeimpactonbirdabundanceowingtoincreasedoverlapwith
thehearing rangesof birds and other trophicallyconnectedgroups
(Greenfield,2014).Totesttheeffectsofourplaybacks,weevaluated
noiseasacategoricalandcontinuousvariable.Toexaminenoiseas
acategoricalvariable,wecompared birdabundance atcontroland
noises ites.Totestt hecontinuousef fect sofno ise,weus edthevari-
ation in sound levelsat each site as a predictor of bird abundance
(Figure 1d).Studying therelationshipbetweensoundlevelandbird
abundancecanprovidemanagersinformationontheecologicalben-
efitsofquietinganthropogenicallyalteredecosystems.
2 | MATERIALS AND METHODS
2.1 | Phantom natural gas field
We played compressor station noise in the sagebrush steppe of
SouthwestIdaho (USA),inanarea used forrecreationandmilitary
training—theOrchardCombatTrainingCenter.Webroadcastnoise
from1Aprilto15 October in2014and 2015. Weselectedexperi-
mental si tes, and ran domly assign ed them to noise ve rsus control
treatments—sevencontrol and eightnoise sites in 2014, wherewe
broadc ast our narr owband playba ck, and six cont rol and six noi se
sites in 2015 (reu sing 10 sites from 2014, and e stablish ing 2 new
sites),wherewebroadcastour broadbandplayback(detailsbelow)
(See Figure 2 and Figure S1 in Supporting Information).At control
sites, we pl aced dummy 'spe akers' that wer e similar in shap e, size
andcolourtoourbroadcastspeakers.Siteswereatleast1kmapar t
and500mormorefromadirtroad.
All sites hadsimilar plantcommunities, dominated by bigsage-
brush (Artemesia tridentata). To quantify the percentage of sage-
brushcoverateachsiteweusedphotographicmethods(Booth,Cox,
    
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Journal of Applied Ecology
CINTO MEJ IA ET Al .
&Be rry man,200 6).Wemeasuredveg et at io na lo ng fi ve30 0 -m tr an-
sectsradiatingfromthe centreofeach site.Withacamera(Fujifilm
FinePix XP7016.4MegapixelCompactC amera)at tachedtoa2-m
pole(Sokkia724,290Economy2mAluminum2SectionGPSRover
Rod), we photographed 20 points along each transect that were
15mapart, obtaining a hundred pictures per site. We obtained 1-
m2photographsthatwereanalysedusingtheopensourcesoftware
Sample Point (version 1.58 ; Booth et al., 20 06). We identified th e
vegetationtypeof64individualpointsofeachphotographtoobtain
apercentcoverforsagebrush.
2.2 | Noise playback and acoustic monitoring
Webroadcasttwonoisestimuli,oneperyear(Figure1a–c).Foreach
stimul us type (nar rowband and b roadband ) we used one play back
filethatincombinationwithtwo differentspeakersystemscreated
the two di fferent nois e stimuli. Arr ays were mounted on s upport
structures 2 m above the ground. For the narrowband playback in
2014,we placedfour horn-loadedspeakers(Dayton RPH16; MCM
40 W; 4 0 0–3,0 0 0 Hz±5d BA) int hefou rcar din aldir e cti ons ,an dam -
plified themusingclassD amplifiers (PartsExpress,2W,4-ohm).In
2015,forthebroadbandplayback,weusedomni-directionalspeak-
ers(Octasound SP820A;35–20,000 Hz ±10dBA,)andsubwoofers
(Octasound OS2X12; 25–20,000 Hz ± 10dBA) driven by class T
amplifiers(LepaiLP-2020A20W,4-ohm). Amplifiers were powered
by solararr aysystems (Solarland SLP 15S-12 panels, Morningstar
PS-30M controllers and PowerSonic12Vbatteries). We delivered
soundfiles(WAV)totheamplifiersusingOlympusLS-7playersthat
werepoweredwith20-amphourLiFePO4(Batter yspace)batteries.
Weplayedsyntheticcompressornoise,createdinAudacit yver-
sion2.1.2.Becausecompressorstationstendtobeidiosyncratic,we
createdouraudiofilefromanaverageofthreecompressorstations
recordedintheSanJuanbasin,NewMexicoandGreenRiverBasin,
Wyoming. C ompressor st ations were recorde d with a Sennheise r
ME66 microp hone (40–20,000 Hz; ±2.5dBA) a nd Roland R-05 re-
corder (samplingrate48kHz)at40m. Wecreated a3-hrplayback
file that w as repeated 24 hr/day.It i s important to n ote that the
compressorstationswerecordedverylikelyproducedenergybelow
20Hz(Francisetal.,2011),outsideoftherecordingorplaybackca-
pabilitiesofourequipment.
To measure sound levels at each site through the season,
we placed acoustic recording units (ARUs; Roland R-05 audio
FIGURE 1 Broadcastfilesandequipment.(a)A5-minrecordingofournarrowbandplaybackdisplayedasaspectrogram
(frequency(kHz)×time(min)),andoscillogramshowingtheamplitude(voltage×time).(b)A5-minrecordingofourbroadbandplayback
displayedasaspectrogram(frequenc y×time),andoscillogramshowingtheamplitude(voltage×time).(c)Visualcomparisonofreal
compressorsandourplaybacks.Powerspectra(soundlevel×frequency)oft wogascompressorstationsinNewMexico(Compressor1)
andWyoming(Compressor2),andrecordingsofthetwofilesbroadcastinourexperiment(allfilesrecordedat40meters).Comparedto
thenarrowbandplayback,thebroadbandplaybackwas~6kHzhigherinbandwidthasmeasured55dBbelowpeakfrequency.Theaverage
songbirdhearingrange(asmeasured55dBabovethebesthearingthresholdfortheaveragebird)isdepictedbytheshadedgreybar
(Dooling,2011),showingstrongoverlapbetweenournoisebroadcastsandbirdspectralsensitivity.Whencomparingthenarrowbandand
broadbandplaybacks,notethegreaterspectraloverlapofthebroadbandtreatmentwithbirdhearingatbothlowandhighfrequencies.(d)
Meanvalues(±SE)ofsoundlevels(dBA)fromeachsiteatthe50and250mpointcountlocations.Circlesrepresent50-msitesandtriangles
represent250-msites.Yellowrepresentscontrolsitesandredrepresentsnoisesites.Thelargervariationofnoisesitesat250misdueto
changesinwinddirec tionandourplaybacknoisetravelling250mfromthespeakers
4 
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CINTO MEJ IA ET Al .
recorders)thatwere calibrated followingMennitt&Fristrup,2012,
and mounted inside a protective wind screen at each bird point
countlocation(30 in2014and 24in 2015).WecamouflagedARUs
inshru bsandmo un tedth em 50cmaboveth eg ro undbylash in gs up-
portrodstovegetation.Usingcustomprograms(DamonJoyce,NPS,
AUDIO2NVSPL and Acoustic Monitoring Toolbox), we obtained
hourly sound levels from MP3 recordings (equivalent continuous
soundlevel;LEQindBA).
Acrossourstudy site, the gradientofbackgroundnoiseranged
fr om~2 2d BAt o6 3dB A(F igu re1d),a llo win gu sto co m par en oto nly
noiseandcontrol sitesbut alsoexamineagradient ofsound levels
due to the va riation bet ween sites with t he same treat ment, and
variationwithinthesamesite(decibelsat50mvs.250m).Foreach
site,weobtainedthemedianofthehourlyLEQ(dBA)permonth
(Lynch,Joyce,&Fristrup,2011)asapredictorofbirdabundance.In
2014,under the narrowband playback (Figure 1a),sound levels at
50mfromthespeakerarraysaveraged56.3±1.7dBA(mean±SE)
at noise site s and 37 ± 0.7 dBA at control s ites. At 250 m, noi se
sites avera ged 46 ± 1.5 dBA and c ontrol sites 35 ± 1. 59dB A. In
2015,underthebroader bandwidthandhigher intensityplayback
(Figure1b),soundlevelsat50maveraged58±1dBAatnoisesites
and 30.6± 1 dBA at control sites. At 250 m, noise sites averaged
39.8±1dBAandcontrolsitesaveraged33±0.9dBA.Itisimport-
anttonotesoundlevelsofourcontrolsiteswerehigherthanmany
natural environments (Bux ton et al., 2017) duetomilitary training
andrecreationalactivityinourstudyarea.Fur thermore,thesound
lev el sofourcon tr olsi te sweresimilart ocontr olsites(w el lpadsites)
usedinprevious'natural'ecologicalexperimentsinrealnaturalgas
fields (e.g.,Francis et al., 2009).Figures 1 and2show the hetero-
geneity and variability between sites due to atmospheric (wind)
conditionsandtopographyin2015.Seesupportinginformationfor
detailsaboutoursoundscapemapduringthenarrowbandplayback
in2014(FigureS1).
2.3 | Bird abundance
We counted bird s at each site seven to te n times from 8 A pril to
17June2014during the narrowband playback,and seven to eight
timesfrom5Aprilto15June2015duringthebroadbandplayback.
Ateachsite,weplacedtwopointcountlocations,oneat50mfrom
the spea ker array and the s econd at 250 m from t he array. Point
countlocationswereplacedinoppositedirectionsfromthespeaker
arraytomaximizetheindependenceofcountsites.Allcountswere
6mininlength,andconductedwithin4hraftersunrisebythesame
two obse rvers, duri ng both seasons. N o surveys were con ducted
understrongwindorheavyrain.Countingmethodologyfolloweda
modifiedprotocol oftheRockyMountain Bird Observatory (Hanni
etal.,2014).Foreachdetectedbird,werecordedspecies,direc tion
and dist ance (using laser r ange finders) of al l birds. We identif ied
species by call,song or sight.Becauseprobability of detection can
vary betweenobser vers (Alldredge, Simons,&Pollock, 2007;2015
&Barber,22015;Sauer,Peterjohn,&Link,1994),werandomizedthe
surveys thateachobservercompletedwithin site (50mvs.250m)
and between sites, making sure both observers visited all sites.
Excessivenoise can decrease the numberofbirds detected during
pointcounts(e.g.McClureetal.,2015;Simons,Alldredge,Pollock,&
Wettroth,2007;Pacifici,Simons,&Pollock,2008).However,Ortega
and Francis (2012) found that noise from natural gas compressors
didnotinterferewithdetectionratesforsoundlevelsunder45dBA.
Furthermore, Koper and colleaguesshowed that quiet tomoderate
FIGURE 2 Thephantomnaturalgas
field.Estimatedsoundlevels(dBA1hr
LEQ)ofnoisesitesagainstabackground
of28dBA,themedianL50forcontrol
sitesfromMaytoJuneduringbroadband
playback(2015).Soundlevelwas
modelledusingSPreAD-GIS(Reed,
Boggs,&Mann,2010);seesupporting
informationfordetails(AppendixS1).
Thismapisaheuristicofthebroadband
soundsc ape.Greencircles(control)and
triangles(noise)representthecentreof
thesite,speakersordummyspeakers.
Yellowcirclesrepresentthetwopoint
countlocations.Pulloutintheupperright
cornerrepresent ssoundlevelsfroman
exampleplaybacksite
    
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CINTO MEJ IA ET Al .
levelsofextractionnoisewereunlikelytointerferewithdetectionof
songbirds(Koper,Leston,Baker,Curry,&Rosa,2016).Nevertheless,
weturnedoffourspeakersduringpointcountssothatnoisewould
notinterferewithratesofdetection(McClureetal.,2013).Because
noise levels were between ~30 and 37 dBA undernoise-offcondi-
tions at control and noise sites,relative comparisonof bird counts
between the two site types are likely not biased by imperfect
detection.
2.4 | Statistical analysis
Weanalysed all data using R (R Core Team, 20 00 R language defi-
nition), version 3.2.1 and package lme4 (Barton, 2016; Bates,
Maechle r, Bolker, & Walker, 2014). We truncated dat a to include
detect ions only wit hin 150 m of point co unt locatio ns. Truncating
ourdetectionsto150mallowedustoincludeindividuals thatwere
400 m from the noi se source at the 250-m point count l ocation
(250m + 150m),therefore, our results only applywithin400 mof
ourspeakerarrays.
We were interes ted in the five song bird species that b reed
in our site and are associated with the sagebrush ecosystem—
Brewer's sparrow(Spizella breweri),hornedlark(Eremophila alpes
tris),western meadowlark(Sturnella neglecta),sagebrush sparrow
(Artemisiospiza nevadensis) and sage thrasher (Oreoscoptes monta
nus) (Baker, Eng, Gashwi ler,S chroeder, & Clait , 1976). We mod-
elle da bu ndanc eofourfi ve sp eciesofintere stco mbine d,andeach
species individually, using generalized linear mixedmo delswith
a Poisson dis tribution (B olker et al., 20 09). We only considere d
parame ters as informat ive if they had 95% confid ence interva ls
excluding zero (Arnold, 2010). To test the effec ts of dif ferent
playbacksindependently,we analysed each year separately.We
also z-transformed independent variables to improve model
convergence.
To test whether b ird abundance is re lated to the prese nce or
absence ofnoisewefirst createdamodel withthe variables 'treat-
ment'(indicatingnoisevs.controlsites),interactionoftreatmentand
pointcountlocation(50or250mfromthespeakers),combinations
oflinear and quadratic ef fectsofthe day of the census(to include
seasona l fluctuatio ns), and percent sag ebrush cover (be cause it is
an impor tant predictor of songbird settlement decisions; Chalfoun
&Martin, 2007). Totest therelationship between bird abundance
andsoundlevel,wecreatedanothermodelwithavariable'dBA'(in-
dicatingthemonthlymediansoundlevel(LEQindBA)ateachpoint
countlocation),combinationsoflinearandquadraticeffectsofday,
and perce nt sagebrush cove r. Note that dBA a nd treatment we re
never in the s ame model , thus avoiding m ulticollin earity. For bot h
models,weincludedsiteandpointcountlocationasrandomeffects.
During the analysis, wekeptthewhole modelandwe did not drop
anyparameterthatwasnotinformative.Duetovariousmethodsof
studyingsoundscapes,eventhoughourresultsdonotqualitatively
change,weincludeaseparateanalysisusingthemediansoundlevel
(L50;TableS2).
3 | RESULTS
3.1 | Treatment model
During the narrowband playback, parameters that explained
Brewer's sparrow abundance were treatment, interaction of
treatment and point count location, day and day2. Brewer 's
sparrow showedanegativeresponseto treatmentonly at the
50-mpointcountlocation,decreasing30%atnoisesites(aver-
agecount1.13±0.18atcontroland0.76±0.12atnoisesites).
Parametersthatexplainedtheabundanceofthesongbirdcom-
munityweredaya ndday2 ( Table1,Figure3).Duringthebroad-
bandplayback,theparametersthatexplainedBrewer'ssparrow
abundancewere treatment, interactionoftreatmentand point
countlo catio n, dayandday2.B rewer'ssparrow,showedanega-
tive response to treatment at both 50-m and 250-m count
locations,decreasing51.8%(averagecount2.31±0.32atcon-
trol and 1.11 ± 0.18 at noise si tes), and 13% (average count
2.06 ± 0.25atcontrol and1.79± 0.25 at noise sites),respec-
tively,inthepresenceofnoise.Parametersthatexplainedthe
abu ndanceofth esong birdcommun it yweretreat me nt ,dayand
day2,decreasing20%(averagecount1.12±0.06atcontroland
0.89±0.05a tnoises ites) atnoi sesites(50ma nd250mcounts
combined). The parameters that explained the abundance of
sagebrush sparrow were day and day2, only underthe broad-
band playback. The parameter thatex plainedthe abundance
ofsage thrasher with a positive relationshipunder both play-
backswassagebrushcover(Table1,Figure3).Allresponsesto
day and day2werepositivequadratics(Table1).Thisresponse
indicates that bird abundance increases with time as migrant
specie sar rivedatourst udysite,a ndl aterinthesummer,fewer
bir dsaredete ctedasaresultofth eendoft hebree dingseason.
Horned lark and western meadowlark showedno response to
anyparameters.
3.2 | Sound level model
During the narrowband playback, parameters that explained
Brewer's sparrow abundance were dBA, day and day2. Brewer's
sparrow showed a negative response to increased sound levels
with a decrease of 15%per 9 dBA . Parameters that explainedthe
abundanceofthe songbird community wereday,andday2. During
thebroadband playback,parametersthatexplained Brewer'sspar-
rowabundanceweredBA ,day,andday2.Brewer'ssparrowshowed
a negative r esponse to incr eased sound le vels with a decre ase of
17% per 9 dBA . During the bro adband playb ack, parame ters that
explained the abundance of the songbird community were dBA,
day and day2, with a decrease of 7.5%per 9 dBA . The parameters
thatexplainedthe abundanceofsagebrushsparrowonly underthe
broadband playback were day and day2. The parameter that ex-
plained the abundanceofsage thrasherwithapositiverelationship
under both playbackswaspercentageof sagebrushcover( Table1,
Figure 3). A ll responses to d ay and day2 were posit ive quadratic s
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TABLE 1 Scaledestimatevalues,standarderrors,pvaluesand95%confidenceintervalsofallparameterswith95%confidenceinter vals
excludingzero
Parameter Estimate Std. Error p95 C.I. 95 C.I.
Treatmentmodel
Allbirds ,narrowband Day2−1. 71 0.38 0.00 −0.96 −2 . 46
Day 1.69 0.38 0.00 2.43 0.95
Treatment −0.19 0.17 0.25 −0.53 0.15
Treatment×Point 0.00 0.21 0 .99 0.47 0.4 4
Point −0.10 0.15 0 .51 −0.43 0.23
Sagebrushcover 0.02 0.06 0.76 −0.1 2 0.15
Allbirds ,broadband Day2−4.13 0.58 0.0 0 −2.99 −5 .26
Day 4.20 0.58 0.00 5.33 3.06
Treatment −0.29 0.10 0.00 −0 .10 −0.48
Treatment×Point 0.10 0 .13 0.44 0.16 0.37
Point 0.06 0.09 0.50 −0.11 0. 23
Sagebrushcover 0.06 0.03 0.05 0.00 0.13
Brewer'ssparrow,
narrowband
Day2−10 . 68 1.16 0.00 −8.40 −12 .97
Day 10.3 4 1.11 0.00 12.52 8.16
Treatment −0.51 0.25 0.04 −0.03 −1 . 01
Treatment×Point 0.50 0.25 0.04 1.13 0.16
Point −0 .14 0.17 0.43 −0.49 0.21
Sagebrushcover 0.05 0.10 0.60 −0.16 0.28
Brewer'ssparrow,broadband Day2−10. 79 1 .13 0.00 −8.57 −13 . 01
Day 10.85 1.12 0.00 13.05 8.65
Treatment −0.78 0.17 0.00 −0.44 −1 . 12
Treatment×Point 0.56 0.23 0.01 1.01 0. 11
Point −0.11 0.14 0.4 4 −0.38 0.16
Sagebrushcover 0.02 0.05 0.72 −0.09 0.13
Sagethrasher,narrowband Day22.19 2.09 0.29 −2.15 6 .14
Day −2. 5 7 2.05 0.21 −6 .51 1.62
Treatment 0.53 0.69 0.4 4 −0.80 2.08
Treatment×Point −0.23 0.84 0.78 −2.18 1 .42
Point 0. 61 0.65 0.35 −0.66 2.14
Sagebrush cover 0.66 0.26 0.01 1.16 0 .16
Sagethrasher,broadband Day2−2. 4 6 2.39 0.30 −7. 2 5 2.18
Day 2.78 2.42 0.25 −1.9 2 7. 6 0
Treatment −0.31 0.48 0.52 −1 . 3 0 0.82
Treatment×Point 0.31 0.61 0. 62 −0.88 1.53
Point 0.26 0.38 0.49 −0.48 1.03
Sagebrush cover 0.82 0.18 0.00 0 .47 1.50
Sagebrushsparrow,
broadband
Day2−4.95 1.35 0.00 −2 . 30 −7.60
Day 4.98 1.35 0.0 0 7. 62 2.34
Treatment −0.26 0.22 0.24 −0.71 0 .18
Treatment×Point −0.37 0.31 0. 24 −0 .99 0.25
Point 0.20 0.19 0.29 −0 .17 0. 59
Sagebrushcover 0.11 0.07 0.13 −0.06 0. 27
(Continues)
    
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(Table1).Hornedlarkandwesternmeadowlarkshowednoresponse
toanyparameters.
3.3 | Carryover effects
Becausewerandomized sites eachyear,andused someofthe same
sitesacross years,we testedforcarryovereffectson bird abundance
from the treatmentinthe previous year. Admit tedly, our lowsample
size sprovideonlyawea ktest.N odiffer encewaso bser vedinson gbird
abundancein2015when comparing controlsites that were exposed
tonoise in2014(N=2)tositesthatdidnotreceivenoiseexposure
ineither year (i.e. sites that werecontrolsboth years)(N=2),norto
controlsitesstudiedonlyin2015(N=2),indicatingcarryovereffects
wereun likel y(β=0.04,±0.0 8,p=0.62;Fig ureS2).Overtwoyears,we
recorded2,074detectionsoffivesongbirdspeciesthatnestedinour
studysite(TableS1).
4 | DISCUSSION
Ourlarge-scale,experimentalbroadcastofcompressorstationnoise
revealed a m arked effe ct on breed ing songbir d abundance . Under
playback of broadband noise,theabundanceof all birds combined,
and one individual species, decreased. In contrast, playback of
Parameter Estimate Std. Error p95 C.I. 95 C.I.
Soundlevel(dBA)model
Allbirds ,narrowband Day2−1. 71 0.38 0.00 −1. 0 0 −2 . 51
Day 1.71 0.38 0.00 2.46 0.97
dBA −0.02 0.05 0.71 −0 .12 0.09
Sagebrushcover 0.01 0.07 0.85 0.13 0.15
Allbirds ,broadband Day2−4.10 0.58 0.00 −2 .97 −5.24
Day 4.17 0.58 0.00 5.31 3.04
dBA −0.10 0.03 0.00 −0.02 −0.17
Sagebrushcover 0.06 0.03 0.08 −0.01 0.13
Brewer'ssparrow,
narrowband
Day2−10 .78 1.17 0.00 −13. 15 −8.53
Day 10.43 1.12 0.00 8 .27 12.68
dBA −0.16 0.07 0.03 0.31 −0.01
Sagebrushcover 0.06 0.10 0.53 −0 .15 0.28
Brewer'ssparrow,broadband Day2−10. 77 1.13 0.00 −1 3. 0 4 −8.60
Day 10.8 3 1.12 0.00 8.67 13.06
dBA −0. 24 0.07 0.00 −0. 37 −0 .11
Sagebrushcover 0.01 0.06 0.90 −0.13 0.14
Sagethrasher,narrowband Day22.26 2.08 0. 28 −2.0 7 6.21
Day −2. 65 2.05 0.20 −6.58 1.54
dBA 0.20 0.20 0.33 −0.20 0.62
Sagebrush cover 0.62 0.25 0.01 0.12 1.20
Sagethrasher,broadband Day2−2. 51 2.40 0.30 −7. 3 0 2.16
Day 2.83 2.43 0. 24 −1 . 89 7.67
dBA −0. 24 0.17 0 .15 0. 61 0.07
Sagebrush cover 0.80 0.19 0.00 0.43 1.39
Sagebrushsparrow,
broadband
Day2−4. 87 1.35 0.00 −7. 58 −2 . 26
Day 4.91 1.35 0.0 0 2.30 7. 5 4
dBA −0.06 0.11 0.60 0.26 0 .17
Sagebrushcover 0.11 0.09 0.25 0.10 0.33
Note: Inboldparametersthatpredictbirdabundance.Theparameter‘treatment ’representsnoisever suscontrolsites,‘sagebrushcover’represents
thepercentofsagebrushcoverateachsite,‘dBA’representssoundlevels,‘day’representsJuliandayand‘day2’represent sthequadraticeffectsof
day.
TABLE 1 (Continued)
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narrowbandnoise alteredthe abundance ofonly one species, sup-
port ing our predic tion that a high er bandwidth a nd level of noise
would resultinastrongernegativeeffecton bird populations. We
demonstratethatnoisealonecanrecreatesimilarpatternsofsong-
bird space u se found in natural g as extract ion fields. Gilb ert and
Chalfoun (2011)obtained comparable resultsinaWyoming natural
gasfieldwhereananalogous songbirdcommunityshowedchanges
inabundanceasdensityofextractioninfrastructureincreasednear
birdcount locations. Additionally,our workbroadly confirms other
studies performed in energy extraction fields (e.g. Bayne et al.,
2008;Francisetal., 2009)aimedatteasing apar tnoise from other
variables.
Underthenarrowbandbroadcast,Brewer'ssparrowabundance
decreased30% compared tocontrolsat the50m sur vey locations
only.Asimilarnarrowbandplaybackofroadwaytrafficnoiseduring
songbirdmigrationresultedinan~30%decreaseinabundance,with
significant declines in 12 migratory species (McClure et al., 2013).
Althoughthereis nooverlapinbirdspeciesexaminedbet weenour
current study and this previous work, our resultshighlightthe im-
portanceofexaminingwildlife responses to noise duringdivergent
lifestages(e.g.migrationvs.breedingseason).Atsitesthatreceived
our broad band noise play back, the ab undance of the ent ire sage-
brush songbird community, and Brewer's sparrowalone, declined
20%and33% respectively.Notethatthesepercentagedecreases
inbirdabundance,althoughderivedfromsmallreductionsinoverall
average coun ts, transl ate to signific ant declines w hen consideri ng
the amount of area pote ntially exposed to g as compressor nois e
acrosssagesteppehabitat(Allredetal.,2015).
Toprovide managers with an informativemetricto parameter-
izethe ecological effectsofquietinglandscapes,weexaminedthe
relationshipbetweensongbirdabundanceandsound level,specifi-
cally.Thisisparticularlyrelevantforexistingenergyextractionfields
where removal of noise sources is unlikely, yet quieting sources is
tract able. The overall songbird communit y declined 7.5% per 9
decibels under the broadband playback, although there was no
measurablechangeunderthenarrowbandplayback.Wefoundthat
Brewer's sparrowdecreased15% per 9decibelsunderthenarrow-
band playback and 17% per 9 decibels under the broadband play-
back. O ur noise sites did n ot recreate som e of the highest s ound
levelcompressorstationsthatexist inextractionfields (Bunkleyet
al.,2015;Mason,McClure,&Barber,2016).Wecan,therefore,pre-
dict that theseintense noise sources willhave a moredetrimental
effectonbirdpopulations.Ourfindingscouldhavebeeninfluenced
byayeareffect.However,thenumberofbirdencounterseachyear
wassimilar(TableS1),and ourexperimentwasdesignedtotestthe
relative,not absolute, differences bet ween noise and control sites
FIGURE 3 Birdabundanceresults.
(a–c)Songbirdabundanceresultsfrom
ourfirsttreatmentmodel.Smallgreydots
representthenumberofbirddetections
inadayateachsite,redsquaresrepresent
meanvalues(±SE)atnoisesitesand
yellowsquaresrepresentmeanvalues
SE)atcontrolsites.(d–f)Songbird
abundanceresult sfromoursecond
dBAmodel.Smallgreydotsrepresent
birddetec tionspersoundlevel(dBA),
indicatinganegativerelationshipbetween
birdabundanceandincreasedsound
levels
    
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between treatments. In addition, based on plumage, 70% of the
Brewer'ssparrowmalesinoursystemt hatwerebandedforthepur-
posesofadifferentstudyinourarea,werefirsttimebreeders,aged
assecondyearindividuals(birdsknowntohavehatchedinthecalen-
daryearprecedingthebandingyear)duringbothyears.
Alt ho ughwedonotknowtheme chanismbehin dthedecrea se
insongbirdabundanceweobserved,ourplaybackscouldhavein-
creased visualvigilancebehaviourowingtolost auditory aware-
ness,andthusreducedforagingrates—forcingbirdstoleave(Ware
et al., 2015). A lternativel y,for aging behavio ur might have been
alteredbyreduced acoustic detectability of prey (Montgomerie
& Weatherhead, 1997), indirectly by altering arthropod distri-
butions (Bunkley etal., 2017), or perhaps byalteringfood webs
(Francisetal.,2009).Infact,arecentstudyindicatesthatarthro-
podschangespaceuseinanaturalgas fieldinresponseto noise
(Bunkleyetal.,2017).
Songbirdspecies thatproduce lowerfrequency songsexhibit a
strongeravoidanceresponsetoanthropogenicnoise(Francis,2015).
In our sagebrush songbird community, most species have simi-
larsong bandwidth andpeakfrequency(seeTableS3), apart from
hornedlarksthathaveaslightlybroaderbandwidthoffrequenciesin
theirsong.However,sagethrashers,aspecieswiththelowestpeak
frequencysonginourcommunity,showednoresponsetonoiseex-
posure. It s eems song cha racteri stics, al though showi ng intriguin g
trends with birdresponses, arenota predictorofthedistributional
shifts we quantified. Thus, the underlying mechanisms driving the
distributionalshiftsweobser vedremainunclear.
Alteredconspecificinteractions,perhapsdrivenbyvocalization-
mediated processes, such as interactions bet ween males (Kleist,
Guralnick,Cruz, &Francis, 2016)andmates(Halfwerket al.,2011),
might also underpinsome results from our study. It is conceivable
thatalteredabundancesofspeciesinthebirdcommunitymighthave
changedheterospecificinteractions,suchasalarmcallingnet works
(Grade&Sieving,2016),withcascadingconsequences.Furthermore,
noise could have altered stress hormones of individuals, either di-
rectly or indirectly, thus driving birds to abandon breeding sites
(Kleist ,Guralnick,Cruz,Lowry,&Francis,2018).Futureresearchinto
causes ofaltereddistributionsand thepotentialofsomespecies to
habituatetonoiseexposureisessentialtoprovidebetterpredictive
modelsoftraitsthatincreaseriskforwildlifeexposedtochronican-
thropogenicnoise.
The data we present here are important for management de-
cisions regarding where future noise-producing infrastructure is
placed andthecurrentimplementationofmitigationstrategies in
high-valu e habitats expo sed to noise. Energ y extract ion compa-
nies can d esign and build co mpressor eng ines to be quieter a nd
lower bandwidth(Motruik, 20 00) and placecompressor stations
where they will create the lowest noise footprint (Keyel et al.,
2018).Building noise-attenuating wallsaround existing compres-
sorstationswill reduceboththesound level(Francis et al., 2011)
and potent ially the bandwid th of noise that intru des onto adja-
cent wildli fe habitat (Hidak a, Beranek, & O kano, 1995). In some
areas, wa lls have alread y been built ar ound compre ssor stati ons,
decreas ing sound leve ls by 10 decibels (dB C) at 30 m (Francis e t
al.,2011).Ene rgydevelopmentandit sassociatedchronicnoiseex-
posure comes with anecological cost, and the current efforts by
theUS governmentto open drillingin protectedareas(The White
House,2017)willdegradethehabitatqualityofthesecriticaleco-
logical preser ves. One clear route to protec ting ecosystems is to
include noiseexposurethresholds in leasesofpublic landstoen-
ergy extractioncompanies.Ourstudyaddsto mounting evidence
indicating significant ecological effects of anthropogenic noise
exposurefor breedingbirdsandsupportstheassertionthatnoise
mitigationshouldbeimplementedinenergyextractionfieldspost
haste(Bayneetal.,2008;Blickleyetal.,2012;Francisetal.,20 09).
Thes ou ndsca pemus tb econsid er edifwe aretoh olist ica ll yp rotec t
ecologicalsystems.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Wethank Alexander Keyel for soundscapemodelling; the Idaho
ArmyNationalGuardforaccess tooursites;Krystie Miner,Brian
LeavellandHeidiWare forprojectinput;MichaelBrownlee,Nate
Azaved o, Leo Ohyama, Cydney Mid dleton, Annie Ba xter, Bailee
Riesberg, Kaisha Young, Jillian Greene, Carlie Levenhagen and
Patrick N iedermeyer for f ield assist ance; Keith Reinhar dt, Maria
Pacioret ty, Peggy Ma rtinez, Ma rie-Anne de Gr aaff, Clint Franci s
and Juliette Rubin for their intellectual and physical contribu-
tions; Damon Joyce for cus tom code; and Mitchell Levenhagen
for ever ything. We tha nk all the reviewe rs that help ed with the
editing process. We thank the American Philosophical Society
(Franklin Research Grant to CJWM), the National Park Ser vice
Natural S ounds and Night Sk ies Division (CESU Pl 3AC01172 to
JRB)andtheNationalScienceFoundation(CNH1414171to JRB)
forfunding.
AUTHORS’ CONTRIBUTIONS
E.C.M.,J.R.B. and C.J.W.M. designed the experiment and method-
ology;E.C.M.collected the data; E.C.M., J.R.B.,and C. J.W.M.ana-
lysed the data; E.C .M. and J.R .B. led the writingofthemanuscript.
Allauthorscontributedcriticallytomanuscriptdraftsandgavefinal
approvalforpublication.
DATA AVA ILAB ILITY STATE MEN T
Data available via the Dryad Digital Repository https://doi.
org/10.5061/dryad.7d069p5(CintoMejia,McClure,&Barber,2019).
ORCID
Elizeth Cinto Mejia https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1418-5494
Christopher J. W. McClure https://orcid.
org/0000-0003-1216-7425
Jesse R. Barber https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3084-2973
10 
|
    
Journal of Applied Ecology
CINTO MEJ IA ET Al .
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How to cite this article:CintoMejiaE,McClureCJW,Barber
JR.Large-scalemanipulationoftheacousticenvironmentcan
altertheabundanceofbreedingbirds:Evidencefroma
phantomnaturalgasfield.J Appl Ecol. 2019;00:1–11. h t t p s : / /
doi .org /10.1111/1365-26 64.13 449
... In the literature that exists, both noise sources have been shown to have similar effects. For example, bird abundances decrease in both gas compressor, and whitewater noise (Cinto Mejia et al. 2019, Gomes et al. 2021b). White-crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys) in surf noise and chipping sparrows (Spizella passerina) in anthropogenic noise suffer similar reduced song performances (Davidson et al. 2017). ...
... It seems animals may avoid noisy areas at least partially because of perceived predation risk and the associated costs of performing Bayne et al. 2008, Francis et al. 2009, McClure et al. 2013, Cinto Mejia et al. 2019, although the mechanisms driving these changes are not entirely clear. In related work to that which we present here, song sparrows decreased in abundance as sound level increased during experimental broadcast of whitewater river noise (Gomes et al. 2021b). ...
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Animals glean information about risk from their habitat. The acoustic environment is one such source of information, and is an important, yet understudied ecological axis. Although anthropogenic noise has become recently ubiquitous, risk mitigation behaviors have likely been shaped by natural noise over millennia. Listening animals have been shown to increase vigilance and decrease foraging in both natural and anthropogenic noise. However, direct comparisons could be informative to conservation and understanding evolutionary drivers of behavior in noise. Here, we used 27 song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) and 148 laboratory behavioral trials to assess foraging and vigilance behavior in both anthropogenic and natural noise sources. Using five acoustic environments (playbacks of roadway traffic, a whitewater river, a whitewater river shifted upwards in frequency, a river with the amplitude modulation of roadway traffic, and an ambient control), we attempt to parse out the acoustic characteristics that make a foraging habitat risky. We found that sparrows increased vigilance or decreased foraging in 4 of 6 behaviors when foraging in higher sound levels regardless of the noise source or variation in frequency and amplitude modulation. These responses may help explain previously reported declines in abundance of song sparrows exposed to playback of intense river noise. Our results imply that natural soundscapes have likely shaped behavior long before anthropogenic noise, and that high sound levels negatively affect the foraging-vigilance trade-off in most intense acoustic environments. Given the ever-increasing footprint of noise pollution, these results imply potential negative consequences for bird populations.
... 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. ...
... This may be due to indirect effects via predator-prey interactions. Bird and bat predators, for example, are known to decline in abundance and activity with increasing sound pressure levels of anthropogenic noise (Bunkley et al., 2015;Cinto Mejia et al., 2019). While we do not yet know how strong any links between these predators and orb-weaving spiders are, spiders (including L. patagiatus studied here) have been found in the diets of many songbird and bat species, including those found within our system (Carlisle et al., 2012;Clare et al., 2011;Gordon et al., 2019;Jedlicka et al., 2013). ...
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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.
... Physical agents can also disrupt mating behavior and nesting. Studies have shown that anthropogenic-source noise and light can also alter bird songs, body mass, and reproductive successes (Schroeder et al., 2012;Da Silva et al., 2015;Elizeth et al., 2019;Dominoni et al., 2020). ...
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Bird populations are dependent on successful reproduction. Anthropogenic pollution consisting of chemical and physical agents can have negative effects on avian physiology including reproduction. The endocrine system of birds coordinates their physiology with their environment. Endocrine disrupting chemicals have a pathophysiological effect on birds. Endocrine disrupting chemicals include polychlorinated biphenyls, polybrominated diphenyl ether, PFAAs, halogenated dioxins and furans, heavy metals and metalloids, petroleum, and pesticides. Physical agents include ionizing radiations, electrical fields, noise, and light. These items are covered in detail with references in this review.
... 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. ...
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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.
... These differences in patterns for both spiders and beetles might exist for several reasons. First, the characteristics of the noise exposure (both airborne and substrate-borne) likely differed (whitewater river noise appears much more broadband (Gomes et al. 2021) than compressor stations (Cinto Mejia et al. 2019)). Additionally, the studies were in two different locations with likely different abiotic habitat conditions and arthropod communities. ...
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Anthropogenic noise has received considerable recent attention, but we know little about the role that sources of natural noise have on wildlife abundance and distributions. Rivers and streams represent an ancient source of natural noise that is widespread and covers much of Earth. We sought to understand the role that whitewater river noise plays on arthropod abundance in riparian habitats across a desert landscape. For two summers, we continuously broadcasted whitewater river noise and spectrally-altered river noise (shifted upwards in frequency, but maintaining the same temporal profile) to experimentally tease apart the effects of two characteristics of noise – sound levels and background spectral frequency – on arthropod abundances. We used five types of trapping methods, placed across 20 sites within the Pioneer Mountains of Idaho, USA, to collect and identify 151 992 specimens to the order level. We built Bayesian generalized linear mixed-effects models with noise characteristics and other habitat variables such as riparian vegetation, elevation, temperature, and moonlight. Of the 42 models we built (one for each order-trap type combination), 26 (62%) indicated a substantial response to at least one noise variable – sound pressure level, background spectral frequency, or an interaction between the two. Fourteen of 17 (82%) arthropod orders responded to noise in some capacity: Araneae, Coleoptera, Collembola, Dermaptera, Hemiptera, Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera, Neuroptera, Opiliones, Orthoptera, Plecoptera, Raphidioptera, Thysanoptera and Trichoptera. Only three groups appeared to be unaffected, Acari, Archaeognatha and Diptera. Results from this study suggest that the natural acoustic environment can shape arthropod abundances both directly and indirectly (via predator–prey relationships). Future work should further examine the role that the indirect effects of noise play in food webs. Natural noise should be considered an important ecological niche axis, especially as we continue to alter natural acoustic environments and replace them with anthropogenic ones.
... Notable advances in the study of altered soundscapes resulting from anthropogenic activities are encouraging [80]. Disentangling the specific cues to which wildlife respond, however, remains challenging but can be accomplished via carefully designed empirical studies [41•] and field experiments [81]. ...
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Full-text available
Purpose of Review Anthropogenic activities can lead to the loss, fragmentation, and alteration of wildlife habitats. I reviewed the recent literature (2014–2019) focused on the responses of avian, mammalian, and herpetofaunal species to oil and natural gas development, a widespread and still-expanding land use worldwide. My primary goals were to identify any generalities in species’ responses to development and summarize remaining gaps in knowledge. To do so, I evaluated the directionality of a wide variety of responses in relation to taxon, location, development type, development metric, habitat type, and spatiotemporal aspects. Recent Findings Studies ( n = 70) were restricted to the USA and Canada, and taxonomically biased towards birds and mammals. Longer studies, but not those incorporating multiple spatial scales, were more likely to detect significant responses. Negative responses of all types were present in relatively low frequencies across all taxa, locations, development types, and development metrics but were context-dependent. The directionality of responses by the same species often varied across studies or development metrics. Summary The state of knowledge about wildlife responses to oil and natural gas development has developed considerably, though many biases and gaps remain. Studies outside of North America and that focus on herpetofauna are lacking. Tests of mechanistic hypotheses for effects, long-term studies, assessment of response thresholds, and experimental designs that isolate the effects of different stimuli associated with development, remain critical. Moreover, tests of the efficacy of habitat mitigation efforts have been rare. Finally, investigations of the demographic effects of development across the full annual cycle were absent for non-game species and are critical for the estimation of population-level effects.
... Researchers have nearly unanimously shown negative impacts of noise on animal behavior, such as communication (reviewed in Brumm 2013) and foraging (Purser and Radford 2011, Siemers and Schaub 2011, Wale et al. 2013a) and have demonstrated changes in risk assessment (Chan et al. 2010, Morris-Drake et al. 2017), oxygen consumption (Wale et al. 2013b), stress levels (reviewed in Kight and Swaddle 2011), olfactory response (Morris-Drake et al. 2016), sleep (Connelly et al. 2020), reproductive success (Halfwerk et al. 2011), and survival (Simpson et al. 2016). More limited research has gone beyond the individual level and has shown that local abundance (e.g., Cinto Mejia et al. 2019), community structure (e.g., Francis et al. 2011), and ecological services, such as seed dispersal and pollination can be shaped by anthropogenic noise. ...
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.
Article
Spatial aspects of wildlife responses to human-induced habitat change have been examined frequently, yet the temporal dynamics of responses remain less understood. We tested alternative hypotheses for how the abundance of a suite of declining songbirds in relation to energy development changed over time. We conducted point counts at two natural gas fields during two periods spanning a decade (2008–2009 and 2018–2019), and compared the abundance of sagebrush songbirds across a gradient of surface disturbance between study periods (trend-by-time). We also assessed changes in the abundance of birds between study periods relative to additional development that had occurred (trend-over-time). We predicted that abundance responses to surface disturbance would be more negative during the second period, regardless of additional disturbance that had occurred, because of previously observed inverse relationships between surface disturbance and nest survival at our sites. Contrary to our predictions, abundance responses attenuated by the second time period for two of three species, Brewer's sparrow and sage thrasher (the latter at one energy field only). Sagebrush sparrow abundance, however, consistently decreased with surface disturbance within and between periods. Sage thrasher abundance consistently decreased with surface disturbance at one of the gas fields, and the probability of colonization by thrashers between study periods was lower where additional surface disturbance had occurred. Our results highlight the importance of revisiting wildlife responses to anthropogenic habitat changes over time, to clarify the severity and longevity of effects.
Article
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Anthropogenic noise is a widespread pollutant that has received considerable recent attention. While alarming effects on wildlife have been documented, we have limited understanding of the perceptual mechanisms of noise disturbance, which are required to understand potential mitigation measures. Likewise, individual differences in response to noise (especially via perceptual mechanisms) are likely widespread, but lacking in empirical data. Here we use the echolocating bat Phyllostomus discolor , a trained discrimination task, and experimental noise playback to explicitly test perceptual mechanisms of noise disturbance. We demonstrate high individual variability in response to noise treatments and evidence for multiple perceptual mechanisms. Additionally, we highlight that only some individuals were able to cope with noise, while others were not. We tested for changes in echolocation call duration, amplitude, and peak frequency as possible ways of coping with noise. Although all bats strongly increased call amplitude and showed additional minor changes in call duration and frequency, these changes could not explain the differences in coping and non-coping individuals. Our understanding of noise disturbance needs to become more mechanistic and individualistic as research knowledge is transformed into policy changes and conservation action.
Article
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Anthropogenic noise is a widespread and growing form of sensory pollution associated with the expansion of human infrastructure. One specific source of constant and intense noise is that produced by compressors used for the extraction and transportation of natural gas. Terrestrial arthropods play a central role in many ecosystems, and given that numerous species rely upon airborne sounds and substrate-borne vibrations in their life histories, we predicted that increased background sound levels or the presence of compressor noise would influence their distributions. In the second largest natural gas field in the United States (San Juan Basin, New Mexico, USA), we assessed differences in the abundances of terrestrial arthropod families and community structure as a function of compressor noise and background sound level. Using pitfall traps, we simultaneously sampled five sites adjacent to well pads that possessed operating compressors, and five alternate, quieter well pad sites that lacked compressors, but were otherwise similar. We found a negative association between sites with compressor noise or higher levels of background sound and the abundance of five arthropod families and one genus, a positive relationship between loud sites and the abundance of one family, and no relationship between noise level or compressor presence and abundance for six families and two genera. Despite these changes, we found no evidence of community turnover as a function of background sound level or site type (compressor and noncompressor). Our results indicate that anthropogenic noise differentially affects the abundances of some arthropod families. These preliminary findings point to a need to determine the direct and indirect mechanisms driving these observed responses. Given the diverse and important ecological functions provided by arthropods, changes in abundances could have ecological implications. Therefore, we recommend the consideration of arthropods in the environmental assessment of noise-producing infrastructure.
Article
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Noise pollution degrades natural acoustic conditions, potentially interfering with bird communication. However, exactly how noise impacts the ability of the signal receiver to detect and discriminate vocalizations from conspecifics remains understudied in field settings. We performed a natural experiment to determine the effect of noise pollution on the territory-defense behaviors of two emberizid sparrows exposed to carefully constructed playbacks of conspecific intruder songs. Although all birds reacted to the playbacks, response latency increased with noise levels. This suggests that noise interferes with signal reception and may indicate impaired signal discrimination. We place these results in the context of a receiver's "listening area" and the significant impact of noise pollution on this receiver-centric perceptual acoustic range. This work informs conservation efforts and provides a much needed field-based examination of the disruptive impact of noise pollution on behaviors directly related to reproduction and fitness.
Article
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Highway infrastructure and accompanying vehicle noise is associated with decreased wildlife populations in adjacent habitats. Noise masking of animal communication is an oft-cited potential mechanism underlying species loss in sound-polluted habitats. This study documents the disruption of between-species information transfer by anthropogenic noise. Titmice and chickadees broadcast specific calls to alert kin of predator threats, and sympatric vertebrates eavesdrop on these alarm calls to avoid predators. We tested if tufted titmouse alarm call eavesdropping by northern cardinals is disrupted by road noise. We broadcast recorded alarm calls to cardinals in natural areas near and far from highways. Cardinals reliably produced predator avoidance responses in quiet trials, but all birds in noisy areas failed to respond, demonstrating that highway noise is loud enough to disrupt this type of survival-related information via masking or cognitive distraction. Birds in family Paridae are abundant, highly social and vocal residents of woodlands across the Holarctic whose alarm calls are used by many species to mediate predation risks. Our work suggests that communication network disruption is likely to be widespread, and could help explain the pattern of reduced biodiversity near roadways.
Article
Noise is a globally pervasive pollutant that can be detrimental to a range of animal species, with cascading effects on ecosystem functioning. As a result, concern about the impacts and expanding footprint of anthropogenic noise is increasing along with interest in approaches for how to mitigate its negative effects. A variety of modeling tools have been developed to quantify the spatial distribution and intensity of noise across landscapes, but these tools are under-utilized in landscape planning and noise mitigation. Here, we apply the Sound Mapping Tools toolbox to evaluate mitigation approaches to reduce the anthropogenic noise footprint of gas development, summer all-terrain vehicle recreation, and winter snowmobile use. Sound Mapping Tools uses models of the physics of noise propagation to convert measured source levels to landscape predictions of relevant sound levels. We found that relatively minor changes to the location of noise-producing activities could dramatically reduce the extent and intensity of noise in focal areas, indicating that site planning can be a cost-effective approach to noise mitigation. In addition, our snowmobile results, which focus on a specific frequency band important to the focal species, are consistent with previous research demonstrating that source noise level reductions are an effective means to reduce noise footprints. We recommend the use of quantitative, spatially-explicit maps of expected noise levels that include alternative options for noise source placement. These maps can be used to guide management decisions, allow for species-specific insights, and to reduce noise impacts on animals and ecosystems.
Article
Anthropogenic noise is a pervasive pollutant that decreases environmental quality by disrupting a suite of behaviors vital to perception and communication. However, even within populations of noise-sensitive species, individuals still select breeding sites located within areas exposed to high noise levels, with largely unknown physiological and fitness consequences. We use a study system in the natural gas fields of northern New Mexico to test the prediction that exposure to noise causes glucocorticoid-signaling dysfunction and decreases fitness in a community of secondary cavity-nesting birds. In accordance with these predictions, and across all species, we find strong support for noise exposure decreasing baseline corticosterone in adults and nestlings and, conversely, increasing acute stressor-induced corticosterone in nestlings. We also document fitness consequences with increased noise in the form of reduced hatching success in the western bluebird (Sialia mexicana), the species most likely to nest in noisiest environments. Nestlings of all three species exhibited accelerated growth of both feathers and body size at intermediate noise amplitudes compared with lower or higher amplitudes. Our results are consistent with recent experimental laboratory studies and show that noise functions as a chronic, inescapable stressor. Anthropogenic noise likely impairs environmental risk perception by species relying on acoustic cues and ultimately leads to impacts on fitness. Our work, when taken together with recent efforts to document noise across the landscape, implies potential widespread, noise-induced chronic stress coupled with reduced fitness for many species reliant on acoustic cues.
Article
Anthropogenic noise threatens ecological systems, including the cultural and biodiversity resources in protected areas. Using continental-scale sound models, we found that anthropogenic noise doubled background sound levels in 63% of U.S. protected area units and caused a 10-fold or greater increase in 21%, surpassing levels known to interfere with human visitor experience and disrupt wildlife behavior, fitness, and community composition. Elevated noise was also found in critical habitats of endangered species, with 14% experiencing a 10-fold increase in sound levels. However, protected areas with more stringent regulations had less anthropogenic noise. Our analysis indicates that noise pollution in protected areas is closely linked with transportation, development, and extractive land use, providing insight into where mitigation efforts can be most effective. © 2017, American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights reserved.
Conference Paper
Historically, designs of centrifugal compressor systems focused on the aerodynamic and performance aspects. Noise, pulsation, and vibration phenomena were rarely considered. Recent applications of high flow and high power centrifugal compressors require that this approach be changed. Several transmission system failures, in different gas transmission companies, were documented. They included fatigue failures of the compressor components, piping attachments, and, in some instances, pipework shell failures. As a result, numerous investigations were carried out. While the compressors were adequately designed from the aerodynamic performance point of view, they appeared to act as dynamic generators, producing excessive noise, pulsation, and vibration levels even when operated well within their design parameters. It was found that neither the designers nor equipment users had a clear understanding on how to practically analyse and mitigate such dynamic phenomena. The objective of this study is to briefly explain possible sources of the observed problems in the hope that such explanation might provide a means for preventing or minimising noise and pulsation generation in centrifugal machines. The study is based on the author’s experience in mitigating pulsation/noise and vibration problems mainly in the single stage natural gas centrifugal compressor systems. The study briefly describes differences in operation between vaned and vaneless diffuser compressors. It considers pipework and its influence on the compressor dynamic performance, and addresses some aspects of the compressor design in both aerodynamic and acoustic areas. Furthermore, it gives several practical methods to mitigate high frequency pulsation and vibration problems. Most of the approaches suggested here were implemented in the field and evaluated either by the author or others.
Article
Several past studies have demonstrated the effects of anthropogenic noise on populations of animals. Yet, differing effects of noise by age and subsequent changes in the age structure of populations are poorly understood. We experimentally tested the effects of traffic noise alone on the age structure of a community of migrating birds at a fall stopover site in south-western Idaho using an array of speakers – creating a phantom road – that replicated the sound of a roadway without other confounding aspects of roads. Both hatch-year and adult birds were negatively affected by noise – having lower capture rates, lower body condition and lower stopover efficiency along the phantom road when the noise was on compared to control conditions. However, hatch-year birds responded more strongly which lead to a significant shift in the ratio of hatch-year to adult birds under noisy conditions. Our previous work using the phantom road demonstrated that traffic noise can degrade the quality of a stopover site by affecting the ability of migrating birds to gain body condition. Here, we demonstrate differences between age classes such that although noise degrades habitat for both hatch-year and adult migrants, there are still differences in responses to noise between age groups. Despite alternative explanations of our results such as changes in behavior affecting capture likelihood, evidence suggests that younger birds avoided the phantom road more than adult birds perhaps because of different tradeoffs between foraging and predation risk and differing strategies of site selection during migration.
Code
Tools for performing model selection and model averaging. Automated model selection through subsetting the maximum model, with optional constraints for model inclusion. Model parameter and prediction averaging based on model weights derived from information criteria (AICc and alike) or custom model weighting schemes. [Please do not request the full text - it is an R package. The up-to-date manual is available from CRAN].
Article
Emerging evidence indicates that anthropogenic noise has highly detrimental impacts on natural communities; however, the effects of noise on acoustically specialized predators has received less attention. We demonstrate experimentally that natural gas compressor station noise impairs the hunting behavior of northern saw-whet owls (Aegolius acadius). We presented 31 wild-caught owls with prey inside a field-placed flight tent under acoustic conditions found 50–800 m (46–73 dBA) from a compressor station. To assess how noise affected hunting, we postulated two hypotheses. First, hunting deficits might increase with increasing noise—the dose–response hypothesis. Secondly, the noise levels used in this experiment might equally impair hunting, or produce no impact—the threshold hypothesis. Using a model selection framework, we tested these hypotheses for multiple dependent variables—including overall hunting success and each step in the attack sequence (prey detection, strike, and capture). The dose–response hypothesis was supported for overall hunting success, prey detection, and strike behavior. For each decibel increase in noise, the odds of hunting success decreased by 8% (CI 4.5%–11.0%). The odds of prey detection and strike behavior also decreased with increasing noise, falling 11% (CI 7%–16%) and 5% (CI 5%–6%), respectively. These results suggest that unmitigated noise has the potential to decrease habitat suitability for acoustically specialized predators, impacts that can reverberate through ecosystems.