Impact of Man-Made Sound on Birds and Their Songs

  • Wouter HalfwerkEmail author
  • Bernard Lohr
  • Hans Slabbekoorn
Part of the Springer Handbook of Auditory Research book series (SHAR, volume 66)


Vocalizing birds are ubiquitous and often prominent in areas that are reached by noisy human activities. Birds have therefore been studied for the effects of man-made sound on song production and perception, physiological stress, distribution range, breeding density, and reproductive success. There are examples of birds that sing louder, higher, and longer when ambient-noise levels are elevated due to human activities. This may lead to perceptual advantages through masking release, although song modifications may also lead to a functional compromise. Fitness benefits of noise-dependent modifications have not been proven yet. Masking effects are reported for outdoor and indoor studies, but data on physiological consequences are not widespread yet. There are also still only few experimental studies on more long-term consequences of man-made sound on development, maturation, and fitness. Observational data on species distributions and densities show that there are birds that persist at noisy sites but also that artificially elevated noise levels can have detrimental consequences for particular species. Birds in noisy localities may move away or stay and fare less well. Furthermore, the effects of noise pollution can go beyond single species because all species may be more or less negatively affected, but the effect on one species may also positively or negatively affect another. The variety in sensitivity among species and the diversity in impact and counterstrategies have made birds both cases of concern and popular model species for fundamental and applied research.


Avian song Coping strategy Experimental exposure Fitness consequences Lombard effect Pitch shift Signal interference Signal-to-noise ratio Vocal plasticity 


Compliance with Ethics Requirements

Wouter Halfwerk declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Bernard Lohr declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Hans Slabbekoorn declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wouter Halfwerk
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bernard Lohr
    • 2
  • Hans Slabbekoorn
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Ecological Sciences, Faculty of Earth and Life SciencesVU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)BaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Faculty of ScienceInstitute of Biology Leiden (IBL), Leiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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