Causes and consequences of intraspecific variation in animal responses to anthropogenic noise

Harry R. Harding*, Timothy A.C. Gordon, Emma Eastcott, Stephen D. Simpson, Andrew N. Radford

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
316 Downloads (Pure)


Anthropogenic noise is a recognized global pollutant, affecting a wide range of nonhuman animals. However, most research considers only whether noise pollution has an impact, ignoring that individuals within a species or population exhibit substantial variation in responses to stress. Here, we first outline how intrinsic characteristics (e.g., body size, condition, sex, and personality) and extrinsic factors (e.g., environmental context, repeated exposure, prior experience, and multiple stressors) can affect responses to environmental stressors. We then present the results of a systematic search of the anthropogenic-noise literature, identifying articles that investigated intraspecific variation in the responses of nonhuman animals to noise. This reveals that fewer than 10% of articles (51 of 589) examining impacts of noise test experimentally for intraspecific variation in responses; of those that do, more than 75% report significant effects. We assess these existing studies to determine the current scope of research and findings to-date, and to provide suggestions for good practice in the design, implementation, and reporting of robust experiments in this field. We close by explaining how understanding intraspecific variation in responses to anthropogenic noise is crucial for improving how we manage captive animals, monitor wild populations, model species responses, and mitigate effects of noise pollution on wildlife. Our aim is to stimulate greater knowledge and more effective management of the harmful consequences of this global pollutant.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberarz114
Pages (from-to)1501-1511
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Issue number6
Early online date1 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • noise pollution
  • mitigation
  • management
  • experiments
  • environmental stressors
  • biological responses

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