Increasing evidence suggests that chronic noise from human activities negatively affects wild animals, but most studies have failed to separate the effects of chronic noise from confounding factors, such as habitat fragmentation. We played back recorded continuous and intermittent anthropogenic sounds associated with natural gas drilling and roads at leks of Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). For 3 breeding seasons, we monitored sage grouse abundance at leks with and without noise. Peak male attendance (i.e., abundance) at leks experimentally treated with noise from natural gas drilling and roads decreased 29% and 73%, respectively, relative to paired controls. Decreases in abundance at leks treated with noise occurred in the first year of the study and continued throughout the experiment. Noise playback did not have a cumulative effect over time on peak male attendance. There was limited evidence for an effect of noise playback on peak female attendance at leks or male attendance the year after the experiment ended. Our results suggest that sage-grouse avoid leks with anthropogenic noise and that intermittent noise has a greater effect on attendance than continuous noise. Our results highlight the threat of anthropogenic noise to population viability for this and other sensitive species.
Experimental Evidence for the Effects of Chronic Anthropogenic Noise on Abundance of Greater Sage-Grouse at Leks
Title: Experimental Evidence for the Effects of Chronic Anthropogenic Noise on Abundance of Greater Sage-Grouse at Leks
May 17, 2012
Journal: Conservation Biology
Blickley, J.; Blackwood, D.; Patricelli, G. (2012). Experimental Evidence for the Effects of Chronic Anthropogenic Noise on Abundance of Greater Sage-Grouse at Leks. Conservation Biology, 26(3), 461-471.