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Human-Made Noise Pollution Could Impair Animals from Escaping Predator Attack

Oct 26, 2016 10:15 AM EDT
Based on recent findings, noise pollution caused by anthropogenic activities can impair some animals'sense of smell, which can later cause danger because of reduced capacity to detect nearby predators.
(Photo : Warren Little/Getty Images)

We can't deny that noise pollution can detrimentally affect humans and may induce various health hazards such as stress, sleep deprivation, and hypertension. But little did we realize that animals too have been experiencing stress and anxieties related to anthropogenic noise.

In a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Bristol, observing the capabilities of South African dwarf mongooses on detecting predators' feces with continuous exposure to recorded road noise has provided significant findings on the connections between the two.

The field test findings showed that the mongooses had a harder time detecting their predators' feces, and the noise had greatly affected their abilities to be vigilant in keeping themselves within their safe zones, as they spend more time around the dangerous or vulnerable areas.

Read here: Cross-modal impacts of anthropogenic noise on information use

Based on their observations of the mongooses' behavior while constantly being exposed to the noise, there seemed to be a defect on their olfactory sense. Detecting predator presence, which was improvised by the team by placing the predators' feces at specified areas, also decreased. According to Amy Morris-Drake, the lead author of the study, implications of this disturbance can eventually lead the animals to make the wrong decisions and become an easier prey.

"While lots of work on the impacts of man-made noise have shown effects on animal vocalizations, movement patterns, and foraging, it is often difficult to determine what that might mean for survival or reproductive success," Morris-Drake added.

With the analyses made linking noise pollution to wildlife, Professor Radford concluded that human-made noise really has a negative effect on animals, and in this paper, it particularly affected the mongooses' responses to smell, which is a crucial information source for them.

"Given the demonstrated effects, considering the interactions among multiple sensory channels is critically important if we are to understand fully the consequences of human-induced environmental change," Radford explained in ScienceDaily.

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