Animal Communication and Species Interactions in a Changing World Consequences of noise pollution

Meeting Abstract

S1-2  Thursday, Jan. 5 08:30 – 09:00  Animal Communication and Species Interactions in a Changing World: Consequences of noise pollution SWADDLE, John P; College of William and Mary

Humans are changing the environment at unprecedented rates, which can put intense ecological and evolutionary pressures on wildlife. One of the most prevalent yet relatively understudied forms of anthropogenic change is noise pollution. Here I will give an overview of the effects of noise pollution on birds, focusing on our group’s studies of zebra finches’ and eastern bluebirds’ communication strategies in the face of noisy conditions. These studies indicate that individual birds show substantial flexibility in their vocal strategies, but that withstanding noisy environmental conditions carries developmental and fitness costs. As noise imposes costs, I will also discuss our emerging line of research whereby we are deliberately deploying spatially-controlled “nets” of masking sound, which make it hard for birds to hear each other or predators, to displace nuisance birds from sites of economic importance—such as farms and airports, where birds can cause tremendous damages. Further I will discuss how we can use targeted sound to reduce the risk of birds’ collisions with buildings and wind turbines. Hence, though uncontrolled noise pollution is damaging to many bird species, spatially controlled noise can help mitigate and limit conflict between birds and human development.

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