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Study on the Effect of Noise Pollution on Birds

Anthropogenic noise pollution (ANP), a globally invasive phenomenon, has an impact on natural systems; however, a majority of the studies have only been conducted on a few species at local levels.

Great Blue Heron. (Image credit: Martin Harrison/Courtesy Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

In this study, a team of scientists analyzed the link between continental-scale breeding season and ANP for 322 bird species to examine if local-scale predictions associated with body mass, breeding habitat, migratory behavior, and vocal traits are consistent at wide spatial degrees for a wide-ranging group of North American bird species in the continental United States.

The scientists determined the link between the occurrence of breeding season and ANP for each species. They achieved this by using spatially explicit estimates of ANP from the National Park Service, as well as weekly estimates of probabilities of occurrence, based on notes from the eBird Citizen Science database between 2004 and 2011.

Different species breeding in human-altered environments were linked with twice the level of ANP as species that breed in forested environments. Migratory as well as resident species did not vary in their associations with ANP; however, songs were less complicated among forest breeding varieties and increasingly complicated with higher ANP.

These study outcomes point toward the fact that local ANP observations do not essentially scale-up to continental levels. But the findings do specify that vocal traits, like song complexity, could be beneficial in understanding the ways in which ANP affects birds across spatial scales.


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