Experimentally increased noise levels change spatial and singing behaviour

Kirsty McLaughlin, H.P. Kunc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


The reasons why animal populations decline in response to anthropogenic noise are still poorly understood. To understand how populations are affected by noise, we must understand how individuals are affected by noise. By modifying the acoustic environment experimentally, we studied the potential relationship between noise levels and both spatial and singing behaviour in the European robin (Erithacus rubecula). We found that with increasing noise levels, males were more likely to move away from the noise source and changed their singing behaviour. Our results provide the first experimental evidence in a free ranging species, that not merely the presence of noise causes changes in behaviour and distribution, but that the level of noise pollution plays a crucial role as well. Our results have important implications for estimating the impact of infrastructure which differs in the level of noise produced. Thus, governmental planning bodies should not only consider the physical effect on the landscape when assessing the impact of new infrastructure, but also the noise levels emitted, which may reduce the loss of suitable habitats available for animals.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0771
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number1
Early online date21 Nov 2012
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2013


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