Journal für Ornithologie

, Volume 144, Issue 3, pp 295–306 | Cite as

The impact of roads on birds: Does song frequency play a role in determining susceptibility to noise pollution?

  • Frank E. Rheindt
Article

Summary

Traffic noise is known to have a negative impact on bird populations in general, but little is known about the mechanisms by which sound pollution affects bird communities. However, a knowledge of these mechanisms is imperative if we want to account for the differences in susceptibility to traffic noise that exist between species, and may thus be critical for conservation action. To address this issue, population assessments were carried out in a contiguous area of oak-beech forest at differing distances from a much frequented motorway to determine the road effect on the whole bird community. As expected, species richness and diversity decreased towards the motorway, and bird abundance was significantly lower along the motorway than in the control area. However, a few species defied the negative impact of the motorway. The songs of the more abundant passerines were analysed with regard to three frequency parameters to determine whether or not a relationship exists between the song pitch of a species and its sensitivity to noise pollution. A significant relationship was found between dominant frequency and decline in abundance towards the motorway, which indicates that having a higher-pitched song with frequencies well above those of traffic noise makes a bird less susceptible to noise pollution. These results suggest that acoustic masking is one of the mechanisms by which traffic noise negatively affects passerine density along roads.

Keywords

traffic noise bird song acoustic masking sound pollution population decline 

Die Auswirkungen von Straßen auf Vögel: Ist Gesangsfrequenz ein Faktor für Lärmempfindlichkeit?

Zusammenfassung

Verkehrslärm hat negative Auswirkungen auf Vogelbestände. Sehr wenig ist jedoch bekannt über die Mechanismen, durch welche Lärm zur Beeinträchtigung von Vogelgemeinschaften beiträgt. Dabei ist die Kenntnis eben dieser Mechanismen unerlässlich, wenn man Vorhersagen treffen will bezüglich der Unterschiede in Lärmempfindlichkeit, die es zwischen verschiedenen Arten gibt, beispielsweise im Rahmen von Schutzprogrammen. Um dieser Frage nachzugehen, wurden Bestandserfassungen in einem zusammenhängenden Eichen-Buchenwaldgebiet in unterschiedlichen Abständen zu einer viel befahrenen Autobahn durchgeführt. So konnten die Auswirkungen der Straße auf die gesamte Vogelgemeinschaft erfasst werden. Erwartungsgemäß nahmen Artenreichtum und Diversität zur Autobahn hin ab. Ebenso waren Vogelabundanzen entlang der Autobahn signifikant tiefer als im Kontrollgebiet. Dennoch zeigten sich einige Arten nicht beeinträchtigt durch die Autobahn. Um festzustellen, ob zwischen Gesangsfrequenz und Lärmempfindlichkeit ein Zusammenhang besteht, wurden die Gesänge der häufigeren Singvogelarten in Bezug auf drei Frequenzparameter untersucht. Die dominante Frequenz eines Gesanges korrelierte dabei signifikant mit der Bestandsabnahme zur Autobahn hin, was andeutet, dass Vögel mit Gesangsfrequenzen, die weit über den Frequenzen von Verkehrsgeräuschen liegen, weniger lärmempfindlich sind. Diesen Ergebnissen zufolge ist die akustische Überdeckung von Vogelgesang in den Frequenzbereichen von Straßenlärm einer der Mechanismen, durch welche Singvogeldichten entlang von Straßen negativ beeinträchtigt werden.

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Copyright information

© Deutsche Ornithologen-Gesellschaft/Blackwell Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank E. Rheindt
    • 1
  1. 1.Theodor-Boveri-Institut (Biozentrum), Lehrstuhl für Verhaltensphysiologie und SoziobiologieUniversität WürzburgWürzburgGermany

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