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Conserv Biol. 2008 Oct;22(5):1186-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2008.00973.x. Epub 2008 Jun 20.

Impacts of chronic anthropogenic noise from energy-sector activity on abundance of songbirds in the boreal forest.

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Integrated Landscape Management Group, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


The effects of human activities in forests are often examined in the context of habitat conversion. Changes in habitat structure and composition are also associated with increases in the activity of people with vehicles and equipment, which results in increases in anthropogenic noise. Anthropogenic noise may reduce habitat quality for many species, particularly those that rely on acoustic signals for communication. We compared the density and occupancy rate of forest passerines close to versus far from noise-generating compressor stations and noiseless well pads in the boreal forest of Alberta, Canada. Using distance-based sampling, we found that areas near noiseless energy facilities had a total passerine density 1.5 times higher than areas near noise-producing energy sites. The White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis), Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata), and Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus) were less dense in noisy areas. We used repeat sampling to estimate occupancy rate for 23 additional species. Seven had lower conditional or unconditional occupancy rates near noise-generating facilities. One-third of the species examined showed patterns that supported the hypothesis that abundance is influenced by anthropogenic noise. An additional 4 species responded negatively to edge effects. To mitigate existing noise impacts on birds would require approximately $175 million. The merits of such an effort relative to other reclamation actions are discussed. Nevertheless, given the $100 billion energy-sector investment planned for the boreal forest in the next 10 years, including noise suppression technology at the outset of construction, makes noise mitigation a cost-effective best-management practice that might help conserve high-quality habitat for boreal birds.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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