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Causes and consequences of intraspecific variation in animal responses to anthropogenic noise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article numberarz114
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioral Ecology
DateAccepted/In press - 13 Jun 2019
DatePublished (current) - 1 Jul 2019


Anthropogenic noise is a recognised global pollutant, affecting a wide range of non-human animals. However, most research considers only whether noise pollution has an impact, ignoring that individuals within a species or population exhibit substantial variation in responses to stress. Here, we first outline how intrinsic characteristics (e.g. body size, condition, sex and personality) and extrinsic factors (e.g. environmental context, repeated exposure, prior experience and multiple stressors) can affect responses to environmental stressors. We then present the results of a systematic search of the anthropogenic-noise literature, identifying papers that investigated intraspecific variation in the response of non-human animals to noise. This reveals that fewer than 10% of papers (51 of 589) examining impacts of noise test experimentally for intraspecific variation in responses; of those that do, over 75% report significant effects. We assess these existing studies to determine the current scope of research and findings to-date, and to provide suggestions for good practice in the design, implementation and reporting of robust experiments in this field. We close by explaining how understanding intraspecific variation in responses to anthropogenic noise is crucial for improving how we manage captive animals, monitor wild populations, model species responses, and mitigate effects of noise pollution on wildlife. Our aim is to stimulate greater knowledge and more effective management of the harmful consequences of this global pollutant.

    Research areas

  • noise pollution, mitigation, management, experiments, environmental stressors, biological responses

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