Purpose of Review
Quantifying the effects of anthropogenic sounds on wildlife at the landscape scale of observation has been notoriously difficult because these sounds are often confounded with the presence of infrastructure and loss of habitat through resource exploitation activities. In this paper, we review how anthropogenic landscape changes affect the power level and propagation of sounds in both terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, as well as the behavioural response of organisms to novel acoustic habitats.
Resource exploitation and other human activities change soundscapes both directly, by affecting sound production and propagation, and indirectly, by modifying landscape structure and species distribution patterns. Intermittent anthropogenic sounds are concentrated in the lower frequencies, tend to be louder than enduring sounds of the same origin and create more patchy soundscapes. We identified key sensorial traits that are related to the auditory acuity of species in different taxonomic groups, including fish, birds, anurans, stridulating insects and small mammals, and which may help us understand why certain species are more sensitive to anthropogenic changes to soundscapes.
Prioritizing research in an increasingly noisy world requires a proper understanding of the auditory sensitivity of species, the characteristics of anthropogenic sounds (i.e. intermittent or enduring), and how sound production and propagation is affected by landscape structure. Further research on species’ sensorial traits would provide a framework with which to scale responses to anthropogenic sounds from individuals to communities and better predict the impact of human activities on terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems.
This is a preview of subscription content,to check access.
Access this article
Similar content being viewed by others
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
Francis CD, Barber JR. A framework for understanding noise impacts on wildlife: an urgent conservation priority. Front Ecol Environ. 2013;11:305–13.
•• Shannon G, McKenna MF, Angeloni LM, Crooks KR, Fristrup KM, Brown E, et al. Synthesis of two decades of research documenting the effects of noise on wildlife. Biol Rev. 2016;91:982–1005 A comprehensive overview of the effects of anthropogenic noise on wildlife.
•• Popper AN, Hawkins AD. An overview of fish bioacoustics and the impacts of anthropogenic sounds on fishes. J Fish Biol. 2019;94:692–713. https://doi.org/10.1111/jfb.13948 A comprehensive overview of fish bioacoustics and of the effects of anthropogenic noise on fish.
Wheeland LJ, Rose GA. Quantifying fish avoidance of small acoustic survey vessels in boreal lakes and reservoirs. Ecol Freshw Fish. 2015;24:67–76.
Blickley JL, Blackwood D, Patricelli GL. Experimental evidence for the effects of chronic anthropogenic noise on abundance of greater sage-grouse at leks. Conserv Biol. 2012;26:461–71.
Keehn JE, Feldman C. Predator attack rates and anti-predator behavior of side-blotched lizards (Uta stansburiana) at southern California wind farms. Herpetol Conserv Biol. 2018;13:194–204.
Duarte MHL, Sousa-Lima RS, Young RJ, Farina A, Vasconcelos M, Rodrigues M, et al. The impact of noise from open-cast mining on Atlantic forest biophony. Biol Conserv. 2015;191:623–31.
•• Curry CM, Des Brisay PG, Rosa P, Koper N. Noise source and individual physiology mediate effectiveness of bird songs adjusted to anthropogenic noise. Sci Rep. 2018;8:3942 This study conclusively shows that vocal adjustments can allow birds to compensate the effects of anthropogenic noise on communication but that these responses depend on individual physiology.
Ware HE, McClure CJW, Carlisle JD, Barber JR. A phantom road experiment reveals traffic noise is an invisible source of habitat degradation. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2015;112:12105–9.
Bayne EM, Habib L, Boutin S. Impacts of chronic anthropogenic noise from energy-sector activity on abundance of songbirds in the boreal forest. Conserv Biol. 2008;22:1186–93.
Rosa P, Koper N. Integrating multiple disciplines to understand effects of anthropogenic noise on animal communication. Ecosphere. 2018;9:e02127. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.2127.
Fahrig L, Arroyo-Rodríguez V, Bennett JR, Boucher-Lalonde V, Cazetta E, Currie DJ, et al. Is habitat fragmentation bad for biodiversity? Biol Conserv. 2019;230:179–86.
Francis CD, Paritsis J, Ortega CP, Cruz A. Landscape patterns of avian habitat use and nest success are affected by chronic gas well compressor use. Landsc Ecol. 2011;26:1269–80.
Francis CD, Kleist NJ, Ortega CP, Cruz A. Noise pollution alters ecosystem services: enhanced pollination and disrupted seed dispersal. Proc R Soc B. 2012;279:2727–36.
• Nenninger H, Koper N. Effects of conventional oil wells on grassland songbird abundance are caused by presence of infrastructure, not noise. Biol Conserv. 2018;218:124–33 This study shows how anthropogenic noise can be confounded with the physical footprint of resource exploitation infrastructures.
Habib L, Bayne EM, Boutin S. Chronic industrial noise affects pairing success and age structure of ovenbirds Seiurus aurocapilla. J Appl Ecol. 2007;44:176–84.
Slabbekoorn H, Bouton N, Van Opzeeland I, Coers A, Ten Cate C, Popper AN. A noisy spring: the impact of globally rising underwater sound levels on fish. Trends Ecol Evol. 2010;25:419–27.
Ladich F. Sound production and acoustic communication. In: The senses of fish. Dordrecht: Springer; 2004. p. 210–30.
Amorim MCP. 2006. Diversity of sound production in fish. Commun Fishes. 2006;1:71–104.
• Parmentier E, Fine ML. Fish sound production insight. In: Suthers R, Tecumseh F, Popper AN, Fay RR, editors. Vertebrate sound production and acoustic communication. New York: Springer; 2016. p. 19–49. To our knowledge, this paper is the first to report the relationship between fish size and sound production frequency. It provides a good summary of sound production mechanisms in fish.
• Mickle MF, Higgs DM. Integrating techniques: a review of the effects of anthropogenic noise on freshwater fish. Can J Fish Aquat Sci. 2017;75:1534–41 A comprehensive overview of the effects of anthropogenic noise on freshwater fish.
Popper AN, Hastings MC. The effects of anthropogenic sources of sound on fishes. J Fish Biol. 2009;75:455–89.
• Lumsdon AE, Artamonov I, Bruno MC, Righetti M, Tockner K, Tonolla D, et al. Soundpeaking–hydropeaking induced changes in river soundscapes. River Res Appl. 2018;34:3–12 This study shows how management for hydroelectricity production affect the underwater soundscape of river ecosystems.
Pijanowski BC, Villanueva-Rivera LJ, Dumyahn SL, Farina A, Krause BL, Napoletano BM, et al. Soundscape ecology: the science of sound in the landscape. BioScience. 2011;61:2013–216.
Farina A Soundscape ecology: principles, patterns, methods and applications. Springer Science & Business Media. 2013. pp. 1–315.
Truax B, Barrett GW. Soundscape in a context of acoustic and landscape ecology. Landsc Ecol. 2011;26:1201–7.
Schakner ZA, Blumstein DT. Behavioral biology of marine mammal deterrents: a review and prospectus. Biol Conserv. 2013;167:380–9.
Gilsdorf JM, Hygnstrom SE, VerCauteren KC. Use of frightening devices in wildlife damage management. Integr Pest Manag Rev. 2002;7:29–45.
Bunkley JP, McClure CJW, Kleist NJ, Francis CD, Barber JR. Anthropogenic noise alters bat activity levels and echolocation calls. Global Ecol Conserv. 2015;3:62–71.
Pieretti N, Martire ML, Farina A, Danovaro R. Marine soundscape as an additional biodiversity monitoring tool: a case study from the Adriatic Sea (Mediterranean Sea). Ecol Indic. 2017;83:13–20.
Rossi T, Connell SD, Nagelkerken I. Silent oceans: ocean acidification impoverishes natural soundscapes by altering sound production of the world’s noisiest marine invertebrate. Proc R Soc B 2016; https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2015.3046.
Haver SM, Gedamke J, Hatch LT, Dziak RP, Van Parijs S, McKenna MF, et al. Monitoring long-term soundscape trends in US waters: the NOAA ocean noise reference station network. Mar Policy. 2018;90:6–13.
Putland RL, Constantine R, Radford CA. Exploring spatial and temporal trends in the soundscape of an ecologically significant embayment. Sci Rep. 2017;7:5713.
Buxton RT, McKenna MF, Mennitt D, Fristrup K, Crooks K, Angeloni L, et al. Noise pollution is pervasive in US protected areas. Science. 2017;356:531–3.
Frisk GV. Noiseonomics: the relationship between ambient noise levels in the sea and global economic trends. Sci Rep. 2012;2:437.
Kariel HG. Factors affecting response to noise in outdoor recreational environments. Can Geogr/Le Géographe Canadien. 1990;34:142–9.
• Roca IT, Magnan P, Proulx R. Use of acoustic refuges by freshwater fish: theoretical framework and empirical data in a three-species trophic system. Freshw Biol 2019; https://doi.org/10.1111/fwb.13077. Conceptual framework illustrating how underwater noise levels may affect trophic interactions, with contrasted consequences on animal densities.
Mann D, Cott P, Horne B. Under-ice noise generated from diamond exploration in a Canadian sub-arctic lake and potential impacts on fishes. J Acoust Soc Am. 2009;126:2215–22.
Picciulin M, Sebastianutto L, Codarin A, Farina A, Ferrero EA. In situ behavioural responses to boat noise exposure of Gobius cruentatus (Gmelin, 1789; fam. Gobiidae) and Chromis chromis (Linnaeus, 1758; fam. Pomacentridae) living in a marine protected area. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol. 2010;386:125–32.
Veirs S, Veirs V, Wood JD. Ship noise extends to frequencies used for echolocation by endangered killer whales. PeerJ. 2016;4:e1657.
Desrochers L, Proulx R. Acoustic masking of soniferous species of the St-Lawrence lowlands. Landsc Urban Plan. 2017;168:31–7.
Szalma JL, Hancock PA. Noise effects on human performance: a meta-analytic synthesis. Psychol Bull. 2011;137:682.
Aylor D. Noise reduction by vegetation and ground. J Acoust Soc Am. 1972;51:197–205.
Attenborough K, Taherzadeh S. Sound propagation through forests and tree belts. Proc Instit Acoust. 2016;38:114–25.
Bashir I, Taherzadeh S, Shin H-C, Attenborough K. Sound propagation over soft ground without and with crops and potential for surface transport noise attenuation. J Acoust Soc Am. 2014;137:154–64.
Fricke F. Sound attenuation in forests. J Sound Vib. 1984;92:149–58.
Peipoch M, Brauns M, Hauer FR, Weitere M, Valett HM. Ecological simplification: human influences on riverscape complexity. BioScience. 2015;65:1057–65.
Erős T, O’Hanley JR, Czeglédi I. A unified model for optimizing riverscape conservation. J Appl Ecol. 2018;55:1871–83.
Pine MK, Jeffs AG, Radford CA. The cumulative effect on sound levels from multiple underwater anthropogenic sound sources in shallow coastal waters. J Appl Ecol. 2014;51:23–30.
Rogers PH, Cox M. Underwater sound as a biological stimulus. In: Sensory biology of aquatic animals. New York: Springer; 1988. p. 131–49.
Tonolla D, Lorang MS, Heutschi K, Tockner K. A flume experiment to examine underwater sound generation by flowing water. Aquat Sci. 2009;71:449–62.
Tonolla D, Acuña V, Lorang MS, Heutschi K, Tockner K. A field-based investigation to examine underwater soundscapes of five common river habitats. Hydrol Process. 2010;24:3146–56.
Penna M, Cisternas J, Toloza J. Restricted responsiveness to noise interference in two anurans from the southern temperate forest. Ethology. 2017;123:748–60.
Senzaki M, Yamaura Y, Francis CD, Nakamura F. Traffic noise reduces foraging efficiency in wild owls. Sci Rep. 2016;6:30602.
LaZerte SE, Otter KA, Slabbekoorn H. Mountain chickadees adjust songs, calls and chorus composition with increasing ambient and experimental anthropogenic noise. Urban Ecosystems. 2017;20:989–1000.
Bruintjes R, Radford AN. Chronic playback of boat noise does not impact hatching success or post-hatching larval growth and survival in a cichlid fish. PeerJ. 2014;2:e594.
Radford AN, Lèbre L, Lecaillon G, Nedelec SL, Simpson SD. Repeated exposure reduces the response to impulsive noise in European seabass. Glob Chang Biol. 2016;22:3349–60.
Nedelec SL, Mills SC, Lecchini D, Nedelec B, Simpson SD, Radford AN. Repeated exposure to noise increases tolerance in a coral reef fish. Environ Pollut. 2016;216:428–36.
Bolle LJ, De Jong CA, Bierman SM, Van Beek PJ, Van Keeken OA, Wessels PW, et al. Common sole larvae survive high levels of pile-driving sound in controlled exposure experiments. PLoS One. 2012;7:e33052.
Benítez-López A, Alkemade R, Verweij PA. The impacts of roads and other infrastructure on mammal and bird populations: a meta-analysis. Biol Conserv. 2010;143:1307–16.
Cosentino BJ, Marsh DM, Jones KS, Apodaca JJ, Bates C, Beach J, et al. Citizen science reveals widespread negative effects of roads on amphibian distributions. Biol Conserv. 2014;180:31–8.
Kleist N, Guralnick RP, Cruz A, Lowry CA, Francis CD. Chronic anthropogenic noise disrupts glucocorticoid signalling and has multiple effects on fitness in an avian community. Proc Natl Acad Sci 2018;1709200115.
McClure CJW, Ware HE, Carlisle J, Kaltenecker G, Barber JR. An experimental investigation into the effects of traffic noise on distributions of birds: avoiding the phantom road. Proc R Soc B. 2013;280:20132290.
• McClure CJW, Ware HE, Carlisle JD, Barber JR. Noise from a phantom road experiment alters the age structure of a community of migrating birds. Anim Conserv. 2017;20:164–72 Recent results from the phantom road experiment that supported the negative effect of traffic noise on migrating birds at stopover sites.
• Long AM, Colón MR, Bosman JL, Robinson DH, Pruett HL, McFarland TM, et al. A before-after control-impact assessment to understand the potential impacts of highway construction noise and activity on an endangered songbird. Ecology and Evolution. 2017;7:379–89 Recent results from a BACI experiment that did not support an effect of traffic noise on a warbler species.
Byrnes P, Goosem M, Turton SM. Are less vocal rainforest mammals susceptible to impacts from traffic noise? Wildl Res. 2012;39:355–65.
Draštík V, Kubečka J. Fish avoidance of acoustic survey boat in shallow waters. Fish Res. 2005;72:219–28.
Ries L, Fletcher RJ, Battin J, Sisk TD. Ecological responses to habitat edges: mechanisms, models, and variability explained. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst. 2004;35:491–522.
Laurance WF, Goosem M, Laurance SG. Impacts of roads and linear clearings on tropical forests. Trends Ecol Evol. 2009;24:659–69.
Gehlhausen SM, Schwartz MW, Augspurger CK. Vegetation and microclimatic edge effects in two mixed-mesophytic forest fragments. Plant Ecol. 2000;147:21–35.
Harper KA, Macdonald SE, Burton PJ, Chen J, Brosofske KD, Saunders SC, et al. Edge influence on forest structure and composition in fragmented landscapes. Conserv Biol. 2005;19:768–82.
Oosterhoorn M, Kappelle M. Vegetation structure and composition along an interior-edge-exterior gradient in a Costa Rican montane cloud forest. For Ecol Manag. 2000;126:291–307.
Didham RK, Lawton JH. Edge structure determines the magnitude of changes in microclimate and vegetation structure in tropical forest fragments. Biotropica. 1999;31:17.
Fang CF, Ling DL. Investigation of the noise reduction provided by tree belts. Landsc Urban Plan. 2003;63:187–95.
Hosseini SAO, Zandi S, Fallah A, Nasiri M. Effects of geometric design of forest road and roadside vegetation on traffic noise reduction. J For Res. 2016;27:463–8.
Ow LF, Ghosh S. Urban cities and road traffic noise: reduction through vegetation. Appl Acoust. 2017;120:15–20.
Gates JE, Gysel LW. Avian nest dispersion and fledging success in field-forest ecotones. Ecology. 1978;59:871–83.
Brumm H, Zollinger SA. Avian vocal production in noise. In: Animal communication and noise. Berlin: Springer; 2013. p. 187–227.
Endler JA. Some general comments on the evolution and design of animal communication systems. Philos Trans R Soc Lond Ser B Biol Sci. 1993;340:215–25.
Heffner RS, Heffner HE. Hearing in mammals: the least weasel. J Mammal. 1985;66:745–55.
Gillooly JF, Ophir AG. The energetic basis of acoustic communication. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci. 2010;277:1325–31.
Caves EM, Brandley NC, Johnsen S. Visual acuity and the evolution of signals. Trends Ecol Evol. 2018;33:358–72.
Kemp AD, Christopher Kirk E. Eye size and visual acuity influence vestibular anatomy in mammals. Anat Rec. 2014;297:781–90.
Bertelli S, Tubaro PL. Body mass and habitat correlates of song structure in a primitive group of birds. Biol J Linn Soc. 2002;77:423–30.
Martin JP, Doucet SM, Knox RC, Mennill DJ. Body size correlates negatively with the frequency of distress calls and songs of Neotropical birds. J Field Ornithol. 2011;82:259–68.
Ryan MJ, Brenowitz EA. The role of body size, phylogeny, and ambient noise in the evolution of bird song. Am Nat. 1985;126:87–100.
Wiley RH. Associations of song properties with habitats for territorial oscine birds of eastern North America. Am Nat. 1991;138:973–93.
Zimmerman BL. A comparison of structural features of calls of open and forest habitat frog species in the central Amazon. Herpetologica. 1983;39:235–46.
Gingras B, Boeckle M, Herbst CT, Fitch WT. Call acoustics reflect body size across four clades of anurans. J Zool. 2013;289:143–50.
Barclay RM, Brigham RM. Prey detection, dietary niche breadth, and body size in bats: why are aerial insectivorous bats so small? Am Nat. 1991;137:693–703.
Jacobs DS, Barclay RM, Walker MH. The allometry of echolocation call frequencies of insectivorous bats: why do some species deviate from the pattern? Oecologia. 2007;152:583–94.
García-Navas V, Blumstein DT. The effect of body size and habitat on the evolution of alarm vocalizations in rodents. Biol J Linn Soc. 2016;118:745–51.
Del Castillo RC, Gwynne DT. Increase in song frequency decreases spermatophore size: correlative evidence of a macroevolutionary trade-off in katydids (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae). J Evol Biol. 2007;20:1028–36.
Montealegre ZF. Scale effects and constraints for sound production in katydids (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae): correlated evolution between morphology and signal parameters. J Evol Biol. 2009;22:355–66.
• Roca IT, Desrochers L, Giacomazzo M, Bertolo A, Bolduc P, Deschesnes R, et al. Shifting song frequencies in response to anthropogenic noise: a meta-analysis on birds and anurans. Behav Ecol. 2016;27:1269–74 Meta-analysis of the effect of noise on birds and anurans, which shows the importance of body size on vocal adjustment behaviour.
Lampe U, Reinhold K, Schmoll T. How grasshoppers respond to road noise: developmental plasticity and population differentiation in acoustic signalling. Funct Ecol. 2014;28:660–8.
Orci KM, Petróczki K, Barta Z. Instantaneous song modification in response to fluctuating traffic noise in the tree cricket Oecanthus pellucens. Anim Behav. 2016;112:187–94.
Nakatani M, Miya M, Mabuchi K, Saitoh K, Nishida M. Evolutionary history of Otophysi (Teleostei), a major clade of the modern freshwater fishes: Pangaean origin and Mesozoic radiation. BMC Evol Biol. 2011;11:177.
Ladich F, Fay RR. Auditory evoked potential audiometry in fish. Rev Fish Biol Fish. 2013;23:317–64.
Blaxter JHS, Batty RS. Swimbladder “behaviour” and target strength. Rapports et Proces-verbaux des Réunions du Conseil International pour l’Exploration de la Mer. 1990;189:233–44.
Sand O, Enger PS. Evidence for an auditory function of the swimbladder in the cod. J Exp Biol. 1973;59:405–14.
Kenyon TN. Ontogenetic changes in the auditory sensitivity of damselfishes (Pomacentridae). J Comp Physiol A. 1996;179:553–61.
Ladich F, Schulz-Mirbach T. Diversity in fish auditory systems: one of the riddles of sensory biology. Front Ecol Evol. 2016;4:28.
Boncoraglio G, Saino N. Habitat structure and the evolution of bird song: a meta-analysis of the evidence for the acoustic adaptation hypothesis. Funct Ecol. 2007;21:134–42.
Ey E, Fischer J. The “acoustic adaptation hypothesis”—a review of the evidence from birds, anurans and mammals. Bioacoustics. 2009;19:21–48.
Ripple WJ, Wolf C, Newsome TM, Hoffmann M, Wirsing AJ, McCauley DJ. Extinction risk is most acute for the world’s largest and smallest vertebrates. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2017;114:10678–83.
Yu Y, Karbowski J, Sachdev RN, Feng J. Effect of temperature and glia in brain size enlargement and origin of allometric body-brain size scaling in vertebrates. BMC Evol Biol. 2014;14:178.
Hirt MR, Lauermann T, Brose U, Noldus LP, Dell AI. The little things that run: a general scaling of invertebrate exploratory speed with body mass. Ecology. 2017;98:2751–7.
Roca IT, Proulx R. Acoustic assessment of species richness and assembly rules in ensiferan communities from temperate ecosystems. Ecology. 2016;97:116–23.
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Discovery Grant to NK (RGPIN-2017-04038), Discovery Grant and Canada Research Chair Program to RP (RGPIN-2016-04519) and Government of Manitoba provided Manitoba Graduate Scholarship to JW (no award number).
Conflict of Interest
The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article contains no studies with human or animal subjects performed by the authors.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
This article is part of the Topical Collection on Interface of Landscape Ecology and Natural Resource Management
About this article
Cite this article
Proulx, R., Waldinger, J. & Koper, N. Anthropogenic Landscape Changes and Their Impacts on Terrestrial and Freshwater Soundscapes. Curr Landscape Ecol Rep 4, 41–50 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40823-019-00038-4