Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 415–427 | Cite as

Impacts of traffic noise on anuran and bird communities

  • Maria Isabel Herrera-MontesEmail author
  • T. Mitchell Aide


Anurans and birds rely on sound for a number of social behaviors. Species that use roadside habitats are exposed to traffic noise that can mask important social signals and directly affect the community diversity and composition. We evaluate the impact of traffic noise on anuran and bird species richness, species occurrence, and composition in Puerto Rico, where there is a high density of highways and cars that generate high levels of noise pollution. We compared paired forest sites near (100 m, n = 20, dB > 60) and far (>300 m, n = 20, dB < 60) from highways, with similar vegetation structure, but different levels of noise. We found that the anuran community was not affected by traffic noise. In contrast, bird species richness and occurrence were significantly lower in sites near the highway, and bird species composition also varied significantly. Bird species with low-frequency songs were only detected in sites far from highways. The differences in the ecology and communication behavior between anurans and birds could explain these results. Anurans mainly call at night, when traffic activity was low. In contrast, bird singing activity occurs during the day and overlaps with the high levels of traffic noise. In addition, in natural habitats, Puerto Rican anurans occur at high densities and form noisy choruses (>80 dB), which may allow them to tolerate high levels of anthropogenic noise.


Anthropogenic noise effects Anurans Frog Birds Changes in community composition Highways Urban areas 



We thank Laura May-Collado and Joseph Wunderle for their comments on the manuscript. We thank A.P. Valencia, C. Sanfiorenzo, A. Herrera-Montes, J. Figueroa, S.V. Ramirez, B. Hilje, J. Fonseca and C.A. Rodriguez for their help in the field. We thank C. Milan and the ARBIMON team for their advice with recorders and recording software analysis. We thank P. Rincon and the International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF), USDA Forest Service, Puerto Rico for their help with the map. The research was funded by National Science Foundation (BDI 0640143), Junta de Calidad Ambiental de Puerto Rico and Ford Motor Company. Finally, we appreciate the comments and suggestions of two anonymous reviewers and the Editor that helped us improve the manuscript.

Supplementary material

11252_2011_158_MOESM1_ESM.doc (74 kb)
Appendix 1 (DOC 74 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Isabel Herrera-Montes
    • 1
    Email author
  • T. Mitchell Aide
    • 1
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentUniversity of Puerto RicoSan JuanUSA

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