Noise pollution impacts animal’s use of scent

If your patients jump at the sound of loud noises, that noise may impact more than their ears. At least, that’s what a new study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom have concluded that human-made noise can have a detrimental impact on an animal's use of scent, putting them at greater risk of being attacked by predators.

The study was published in the October issue of Current Biology.

Using field-based experimental trials on dwarf mongooses in South Africa, the researchers combined sound recordings and fecal samples to demonstrate that road-noise playback negatively affected the mongooses' ability to detect predator feces. Even after detection, the additional noise led to less information gathering and less vigilance, making the mongooses more vulnerable to danger.

"We've known for a long time that noise from urbanization, traffic, and airports can detrimentally affect humans by causing stress, sleep deprivation, cardiac problems and slower learning, said Andrew N. Radford, PhD, one of the study authors.

“What's becoming increasingly clear is that a lot of other species—mammals, birds, fish, insects and amphibians—are also impacted in all sorts of ways by anthropogenic, or human-made, noise."

Photo credit: © iStock/chris2766

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