Impact of Man-Made Sound on Birds and Their Songs
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.
KeywordsAvian 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.
- Bergman, G. (1982). Die Veränderung der Gesangmelodie der Kohlmeise Parus major in Finnland und Schweden (The change of song pattern of the great tit Parus major in Finland and Sweden). Ornis Fennica, 57, 97–111.Google Scholar
- Blickley, J. L., Word, K. R., Krakauer, A. H., Phillips, J. L., Sells, S. N., Taff, C. C., Wingfield, J. C., & Patricelli, G. L. (2012a). Experimental chronic noise is related to elevated fecal corticosteroid metabolites in lekking male greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). PLoS ONE, 7(11), e50462. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0050462.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Brumm, H., & Slabbekoorn, H. (2005). Acoustic communication in noise. In P. J. B. Slater, C. T. Snowdon, T. J. Roper, H. J. Brockmann, & M. Naguib (Eds.), Advances in the Study of Behavior (pp. 151–209). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Crino, O. L., Johnson, E. E., Blickley, J. L., Patricelli, G. L., & Breuner, C. W. (2013). Effects of experimentally elevated traffic noise on nestling white-crowned sparrow stress physiology, immune function and life history. Journal of Experimental Biology, 216, 2055–2062.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Dent, M. L., McClaine, E. M., Best, V., Ozmeral, E., Narayan, R., Gallun, F. J., Sen, K., & Shinn-Cunningham, B. G. (2009). Spatial unmasking of birdsong in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) and budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 123, 357–367.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Halfwerk, W., Bot, S., Buikx, J., van der Velde, M., Komdeur, J., ten Cate, C., & Slabbekoorn, H. (2011a). Low songs lose potency in urban noise conditions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108, 14549–14554.Google Scholar
- Hilton, S. C., & Krebs, J. K. (1990). Spatial memory of four species of Parus: Performance in an open-field analogue of a radial maze. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 42, 345–368.Google Scholar
- Klump, G. M. (1996). Bird communication in the noisy world. In D. E. Kroodsma & E. H. Miller (Eds.), Ecology and Evolution of Acoustic Communication in Birds (pp. 321–338). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
- Konishi, M. (1973). How the owl tracks its prey: Experiments with trained barn owls reveal how their acute sense of hearing enables them to catch prey in the dark. American Scientist, 61(4), 414–424.Google Scholar
- Kroodsma, D. E., & Miller, E. H. (1996). Ecology and Evolution of Acoustic Communication in Birds. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
- Marler, P., & Slabbekoorn, H. (2004). Nature’s Music: The Science of Birdsong. San Diego, CA: Elsevier Academic Press.Google Scholar
- McClure, C. J., Ware, H. E., Carlisle, J., Kaltenecker, G., & Barber, J. R. (2013). An experimental investigation into the effects of traffic noise on distributions of birds: Avoiding the phantom road. Proceedings of the Royal Society B:Biological Sciences, 280, 20132290.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Moore, B. C., Glasberg, B. R., & Baer, T. (1997). A model for the prediction of thresholds, loudness, and partial loudness. Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, 45, 224–240.Google Scholar
- Rabinowitz, P. M. (2000). Noise-induced hearing loss. American Family Physician, 61, 2759–2760.Google Scholar
- Ronacher, B., & Hoffmann, C. (2003). Influence of amplitude modulated noise on the recognition of communication signals in the grasshopper Chorthippus biguttulus. Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, 189, 419–425.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Scharf, B. (1970). Critical bands. Foundations of Modern Auditory Theory, 1, 157–202.Google Scholar
- Skiba, R. (2000). Possible rain call selection in the chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) by noise intensity—An investigation of a hypothesis. Journal für Ornithologie, 141, 160–167.Google Scholar
- Smith, T. B., Saatchi, S., Graham, C., Slabbekoorn, H., & Spicer, G. (2005). Putting process on the map: Why ecotones are important for preserving biodiversity. In A. Purvis, J. L. Gittleman, & T. Brooks (Eds.), Phylogeny and Conservation (pp. 166–197). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Swaddle, J. P., Francis, C. D., Barber, J. R., Cooper, C. B., Kyba, C. C., Dominoni, D. M., Shannon, G., Aschehoug, E., Goodwin, S. E., & Kawahara, A. Y. (2015). A framework to assess evolutionary responses to anthropogenic light and sound. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 30, 550–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Tempel, D. J., & Gutiérrez, R. (2003). Fecal corticosterone levels in California spotted owls exposed to low-intensity chainsaw sound. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 31, 698–702.Google Scholar
- Ware, H. E., McClure, C. J., Carlisle, J. D., & Barber, J. R. (2015). A phantom road experiment reveals traffic noise is an invisible source of habitat degradation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(39), 12105–12109.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Wisniewski, A. B., & Hulse, S. H. (1997). Auditory scene analysis in European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris): Discrimination of song segments, their segregation from multiple and reversed conspecific songs, and evidence for conspecific song categorization. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 111, 337–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar