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Conserv Physiol. 2014 Aug 16;2(1):cou032. doi: 10.1093/conphys/cou032. eCollection 2014.

Traffic noise causes physiological stress and impairs breeding migration behaviour in frogs.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Ecology, Center for Brain, Behavior and Cognition, The Pennsylvania State University, 208 Mueller Laboratory, University Park, PA 16802, USA.
2
Department of Biology, Syracuse University, 258 Life Sciences Complex, 107 College Place, Syracuse, NY 13244, USA.

Abstract

Human-generated noise has profoundly changed natural soundscapes in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, imposing novel pressures on ecological processes. Despite interest in identifying the ecological consequences of these altered soundscapes, little is known about the sublethal impacts on wildlife population health and individual fitness. We present evidence that noise induces a physiological stress response in an amphibian and impairs mate attraction in the natural environment. Traffic noise increased levels of a stress-relevant glucocorticoid hormone (corticosterone) in female wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) and impaired female travel towards a male breeding chorus in the field, providing insight into the sublethal consequences of acoustic habitat loss. Given that prolonged elevated levels of corticosterone can have deleterious consequences on survival and reproduction and that impaired mate attraction can impact population persistence, our results suggest a novel pathway by which human activities may be imposing population-level impacts on globally declining amphibians.

KEYWORDS:

Corticosterone; frog; mate attraction; noise; stress

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