Ecological research now deals increasingly with the effects of noise pollution on biodiversity. Indeed, many studies have shown the impacts of anthropogenic noise and concluded that it is potentially a threat to the persistence of many species. The present work is a systematic map of the evidence of the impacts of all anthropogenic noises (industrial, urban, transportation, etc.) on biodiversity. This report describes the mapping process and the evidence base with summary figures and tables presenting the characteristics of the selected articles.
The method used was published in an a priori protocol. Searches included peer-reviewed and grey literature published in English and French. Two online databases were searched using English terms and search consistency was assessed with a test list. Supplementary searches were also performed (using search engines, a call for literature and searching relevant reviews). Articles were screened through three stages (titles, abstracts, full-texts). No geographical restrictions were applied. The subject population included all wild species (plants and animals excluding humans) and ecosystems. Exposures comprised all types of man-made sounds in terrestrial and aquatic media, including all contexts and sound origins (spontaneous or recorded sounds, in situ or laboratory studies, etc.). All relevant outcomes were considered (space use, reproduction, communication, etc.). Then, for each article selected after full-text screening, metadata were extracted on key variables of interest (species, types of sound, outcomes, etc.).
Our main result is a database that includes all retrieved literature on the impacts of anthropogenic noise on species and ecosystems, coded with several markers (sources of noise, species concerned, types of impacts, etc.). Our search produced more than 29,000 articles and 1794 were selected after the three screening stages (1340 studies (i.e. primary research), 379 reviews, 16 meta-analyses). Some articles (n = 19) are written in French and all others are in English. This database is available as an additional file of this report. It provides an overview of the current state of knowledge. It can be used for primary research by identifying knowledge gaps or in view of further analysis, such as systematic reviews. It can also be helpful for scientists and researchers as well as for practitioners, such as managers of transportation infrastructure.
The systematic map reveals that the impacts of anthropogenic noises on species and ecosystems have been researched for many years. In particular, some taxonomic groups (mammals, birds, fishes), types of noise (transportation, industrial, abstract) and outcomes (behavioural, biophysiological, communication) have been studied more than others. Conversely, less knowledge is available on certain species (amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates), noises (recreational, military, urban) and impacts (space use, reproduction, ecosystems). The map does not assess the impacts of anthropogenic noise, but it can be the starting point for more thorough synthesis of evidence. After a critical appraisal, the included reviews and meta-analyses could be exploited, if reliable, to transfer the already synthesized knowledge into operational decisions to reduce noise pollution and protect biodiversity.