Fitness costs as well as benefits are important when considering responses to anthropogenic noise.

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

64 Citations (Scopus)


Trade-offs lie at the heart of Behavioural Ecology, with our ultimate understanding of many behaviours reliant on an assessment of both fitness benefits and costs. However, the rapidly expanding research literature on the impacts of anthropogenic noise (a recently recognised global pollutant) tends to focus on the benefits likely to be accrued by any resulting behavioural adaptations or plasticity. In particular, while studies investigating acoustic communication (the topic receiving the most attention to date) invariably discuss, and occasionally attempt to measure, the perceived benefits in terms of reduced masking that might arise from vocal adjustments by signallers, only rarely are the potential fitness costs even mentioned. The bias towards benefits prevents a full understanding of the consequences of anthropogenic noise, including the implications for population viability and community structure. Here, we argue for a greater consideration of fitness costs, outline a number of specific examples (reduced transmission distances, increased risk of predation/parasitism, altered energy budgets, loss of vital information), make suggestions about how to move forward, and showcase why a balanced view is as crucial in this field as any other aspect of Behavioural Ecology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-7
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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