Traffic noise effects on birds

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Science  25 Sep 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6255, pp. 1501-1502
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6255.1501-c

Traffic noise repels and degrades the fitness of birds like the MacGilivray's warbler


Bird populations decline near roads, but teasing apart the reasons for these declines can be difficult. To identify how road noise affects migratory bird species, Ware et al. used traffic noise playbacks to create a “phantom road” in a road-free area in Idaho. Overall bird numbers were 31% lower at the phantom road site than at a quiet control site. Birds that stayed at the phantom road site had a lower body condition index, an indicator of fitness. One reason for the body condition changes is the need for increased vigilance in a noisy environment, reducing the time available for foraging. The noise levels used in the experiment are similar to those in suburban neighborhoods and in many protected areas. Noise reduction is thus of crucial importance for conservation.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1504710112 (2015).

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