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Title: Anthropogenic noise disrupts use of vocal information about predation risk
Contributor(s): Kern, Julie M  (author)orcid ; Radford, Andrew N (author)
Publication Date: 2016-11
Early Online Version: 2016-08-29
DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2016.08.049
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Abstract: Anthropogenic noise is rapidly becoming a universal environmental feature. While the impacts of such additional noise on avian sexual signals are well documented, our understanding of its effect in other terrestrial taxa, on other vocalisations, and on receivers is more limited. Little is known, for example, about the influence of anthropogenic noise on responses to vocalisations relating to predation risk, despite the potential fitness consequences. We use playback experiments to investigate the impact of traffic noise on the responses of foraging dwarf mongooses (Helogale parvula) to surveillance calls produced by sentinels, individuals scanning for danger from a raised position whose presence usually results in reduced vigilance by foragers. Foragers exhibited a lessened response to surveillance calls in traffic-noise compared to ambient-sound playback, increasing personal vigilance. A second playback experiment, using noise playbacks without surveillance calls, suggests that the increased vigilance could arise in part from the direct influence of additional noise as there was an increase in response to traffic-noise playback alone. Acoustic masking could also play a role. Foragers maintained the ability to distinguish between sentinels of different dominance class, increasing personal vigilance when presented with subordinate surveillance calls compared to calls of a dominant groupmate in both noise treatments, suggesting complete masking was not occurring. However, an acoustic-transmission experiment showed that while surveillance calls were potentially audible during approaching traffic noise, they were probably inaudible during peak traffic intensity noise. While recent work has demonstrated detrimental effects of anthropogenic noise on defensive responses to actual predatory attacks, which are relatively rare, our results provide evidence of a potentially more widespread influence since animals should constantly assess background risk to optimise the foraging-vigilance trade-off.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Environmental Pollution, v.218, p. 988-995
Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
Place of Publication: United Kingdom
ISSN: 1873-6424
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 060801 Animal Behaviour
060201 Behavioural Ecology
050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 310901 Animal behaviour
310301 Behavioural ecology
410401 Conservation and biodiversity
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Environmental and Rural Science

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