Noise pollution hinder bird communication, study says

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019 23:04 |
Noise pollution hinder bird communication.

Noise pollution is making it difficult for birds to communicate with each other and it could lead to a severe decline in numbers, new research from Queen’s University Belfast has found.

Dubbed “Signal complexity communicates aggressive intent during contests, but the process is disrupted by noise” the study found out birds use song to show aggressiveness and to attain territory for nesting and breeding, but this is becoming tougher due to noisy conditions created by humans.

Dr Gareth Arnott, senior lecturer and researcher from the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast, studied bird song in detail and found that background noise can mask crucial information.

“Singing is one of the most common ways birds advertise that territory belongs to them, and birds will perch near the edge of their territory to broadcast their claim to the maximum range. A strong, vibrant song will help defend a territory from intruders and attract a mate,” says Dr Gareth.

However, he and his team have discovered man-made noise is disrupting this process. “We found that bird song structure can communicate aggressive intent, enabling birds to assess their opponent, but human-made noise can disrupt this crucial information passed between them by masking the complexity of their songs used for acquiring resources, such as territory and space for nesting,” he adds. As a result, birds receive incomplete information on their opponent’s intent and do not appropriately adjust their response.

The findings raise concerns about the ability of birds to compete for resources under the growing extent of noise from human activities. 

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