Close  

Man-made noise ‘global pollutant’ affecting many species

/ 04:08 AM November 21, 2019

PARIS—It is well-known that human hubbub can have a negative impact on some animals, but a new study on Wednesday says the noise we make should be treated as a “major global pollutant.”

“We found that noise affects many species of amphibians, arthropods, birds, fish, mammals, mollusks and reptilians,” scientists at Queen’s University Belfast said in the Royal Society’s Biology Letters.

ADVERTISEMENT

Human noise pervades the environment, from vehicles and industry in dense urban centers, to planes flying overhead, to oceangoing vessels whose propeller is thought to interfere with whale sonar communications and may be implicated in mass beaching as the disorientated animals lose their sense of direction.

Reviewing a series of individual studies in what is known as a meta-analysis, Hansjoerg Kunc and Rouven Schmidt said the issue should be seen as the “majority of species responding to noise rather than a few species being particularly sensitive to noise.”

FEATURED STORIES

Sonar interference

“The interesting finding is that the species included range from little insects to large marine mammals such as whales,” he told Agence France-Presse.

“We did not expect to find a response to noise across all animal species.”

The paper said an animal’s response to the clatter of human activity was not necessarily straightforward, and could not be easily termed as positive or negative.

Man-made noise, for example, has been shown to interfere with the sonar detection systems that bats use to find their insect prey, making it more difficult for the flying mammals to catch insects.

Benefit for bugs

But that may be good news for the bugs: “Potential prey may benefit directly from anthropogenic noise,” the paper said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Kunc cautioned, however, that the big picture is still one of serious disruption across the natural environment.

“In the bat example, the predator might suffer because they cannot locate their prey … but in species where potential prey rely on sound to detect predators, the prey might suffer because they might not be able to hear them early enough to escape,” he said.

Human sound pollution and the animal response to it must be seen in the context of an ecosystem, especially when considering conservation efforts, the authors note.

“Noise must be considered a serious form of environmental change and pollution as it affects both aquatic and terrestrial species,” they said.

“Our analyses provide the quantitative evidence necessary for legislative bodies to regulate this environmental stressor more effectively.”

Read Next
LATEST STORIES
MOST READ
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: global pollutant, humans, man-made, noise, pets, Species
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2019 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.