Landscape Ecology

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 239–248 | Cite as

The sounds of silence: regime shifts impoverish marine soundscapes

  • Tullio Rossi
  • Sean D. Connell
  • Ivan NagelkerkenEmail author
Research Article



Regime shifts are well known for driving penetrating ecological change, yet we do not recognise the consequences of these shifts much beyond species diversity and productivity. Sound represents a multidimensional space that carries decision-making information needed for some dispersing species to locate resources and evaluate their quantity and quality.


Here we assessed the effect of regime shifts on marine soundscapes, which we propose has the potential function of strengthening the positive or negative feedbacks that mediate ecosystem shifts.


We tested whether biologically relevant cues are altered by regime shifts in kelp forests and seagrass systems and how specific such shifted soundscapes are to the type of driver; i.e. local pollution (eutrophication) vs. global change (ocean acidification).


Here, we not only provide the first evidence for regime-shifted soundscapes, but also reveal that the modified cues of shifted ecosystems are similar regardless of spatial scale and type of environmental driver. Importantly, biological sounds can act as functional cues for orientation by dispersing larvae, and observed shifts in soundscape loudness may alter this function.


These results open the question as to whether shifted soundscapes provide a functional role in mediating the positive or negative feedbacks that govern the arrival of species associated with driving change or stasis in ecosystem state.


Regime shift Kelp Seagrass Soundscape Snapping shrimps Orientation Population replenishment Ocean acidification Climate change 



This study was supported by Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowship to I.N. (Grant No. FT120100183) and a grant from the Environment Institute (The University of Adelaide). S.D.C. was supported by an ARC Future Fellowship (Grant No. FT0991953).

Author contributions

All authors contributed to the design of the study, collection of the data, and writing of the article. T.R. analysed the data.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10980_2016_439_MOESM1_ESM.docx (156 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 156 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tullio Rossi
    • 1
  • Sean D. Connell
    • 1
  • Ivan Nagelkerken
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Southern Seas Ecology Laboratories, School of Biological Sciences and The Environment InstituteThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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