• Interface of Landscape Ecology and Natural Resource Management (Y Wiersma and N Koper, SECTION EDITOR)
  • Published:

Anthropogenic Landscape Changes and Their Impacts on Terrestrial and Freshwater Soundscapes


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.

Recent Findings

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.

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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).

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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

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  • Anthropogenic noise
  • Ecoacoustics
  • Anthrophony
  • Biophony
  • Geophony
  • Song frequency