Nav: Home

Humans are creating quite a racket, even in the wilderness

May 04, 2017

Human-related noise is doubling background sound levels in 63% of U.S. protected areas, where manmade disturbances are supposed to be reduced, a new study reveals. The results highlight the magnitude by which human noise pollution, often considered an urban problem, is encroaching into more remote expanses. Noise pollution can have a profound effect on wildlife, for example by reducing the ability of prey to hear predators approaching or interfering with the ability of animals to find a mate. Even plants can be affected by noise pollution if herbivores, or rodents that disperse plant seeds, alter their behavior or location because of the sound disturbance. Such changes can have cascading effects on ecosystems. To quantify the extent of noise pollution across the U.S., particularly in protected areas designed to be safe havens for biodiversity, Rachel Buxton et al. recorded sounds at 492 sites across the country. They used a computer algorithm to establish a baseline, or natural sound level, for the various areas, given each's unique geospatial features. They found that background noise exceeded 3 decibels (dB) in 63% of protected areas, and 10 dB in 21% of protected areas; essentially, a doubling and ten-fold increase in background noise, respectively, in these locations. Wilderness areas were found to have the lowest exposure to noise pollution, yet 12% of these areas still experience anthropogenic sound levels 3 dB above natural levels, the authors report. Protected areas with more stringent regulations had less anthropogenic noise; for example, designated critical habitat within protected areas experienced 56% lower noise exceedance than habitats in unprotected areas. In a related podcast, Buxton goes into detail about how various areas are affected by noise pollution, noting that the data collected by her team points to "low-hanging fruit" for mitigating noise pollution.

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Protected Areas Articles:

Investigational vaccine protected monkeys from HIV-like virus
Building on insights from an HIV vaccine regimen in humans that had partial success during a phase 3 clinical trial in Thailand, a Duke-led research team used a more-is-better approach in monkeys that appeared to improve vaccine protection from an HIV-like virus.
Lack of staffing, funds prevent marine protected areas from realizing full potential
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are an increasingly popular strategy for protecting marine biodiversity, but a new global study demonstrates that widespread lack of personnel and funds are preventing MPAs from reaching their full potential.
Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
Attacks by robber bees result in the evolution of larger guard bees and thus promote the division of labor in the hive.
Prides, protection & parks: Africa's protected areas can support 4 times as many lions
Africa's protected parks and reserves are capable of supporting three to four times as many wild lions if well funded and managed, according to a new report led by Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization.
Size matters for marine protected areas designed to aid coral
For marine protected areas established to help coral reefs recover from overfishing, size really does seem to make a difference.
Large marine protected areas effectively protect reef shark populations
Researchers at Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station find that expanded marine protected areas are successful in limiting fishing and increasing reef shark populations.
Neotropical spotted cats may appear more frequently near protected areas
Neotropical spotted cats may occur more near protected areas, according to a study published Jan.
Outdoor recreation in protected areas negatively impacts wildlife
It's a good thing to explore the great outdoors. But a new study led by Colorado State University and the Wildlife Conservation Society found that recreation activities in protected areas are impacting wildlife.
Future of Antarctic marine protected at risk
Efforts to adopt effective marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean, a global commons containing the world's most pristine marine ecosystems, are being thwarted by political infighting and fishing interests.
Why was the NHS logo not protected during referendum campaigns, asks GP?
The Vote Leave campaign in the UK referendum on membership of the European Union was repeatedly warned by the Department of Health for England not to use the NHS logo ahead of the vote, an article published in The BMJ reveals.

Related Protected Areas Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#532 A Class Conversation
This week we take a look at the sociology of class. What factors create and impact class? How do we try and study it? How does class play out differently in different countries like the US and the UK? How does it impact the political system? We talk with Daniel Laurison, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Swarthmore College and coauthor of the book "The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged", about class and its impacts on people and our systems.