Increased noise levels have different impacts on the anti-predator behaviour of two sympatric fish species.

Irene K Voellmy, Julia Purser, Steve D Simpson, Andy N Radford

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

58 Citations (Scopus)


Animals must avoid predation to survive and reproduce, and there is increasing evidence that man-made (anthropogenic) factors can influence predator2prey relationships. Anthropogenic noise has been shown to have a variety of effects on
many species, but work investigating the impact on anti-predator behaviour is rare. In this laboratory study, we examined how additional noise (playback of field recordings of a ship passing through a harbour), compared with control conditions (playback of recordings from the same harbours without ship noise), affected responses to a visual predatory stimulus. We compared the anti-predator behaviour of two sympatric fish species, the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) and the European minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus), which share similar feeding and predator ecologies, but differ in their body armour. Effects of additional-noise playbacks differed between species: sticklebacks responded significantly more quickly to the visual predatory stimulus during additional-noise playbacks than during control conditions, while minnows exhibited no significant change in their response latency. Our results suggest that elevated noise levels have the potential to affect antipredator behaviour of different species in different ways. Future field-based experiments are needed to confirm whether this effect and the interspecific difference exist in relation to real-world noise sources, and to determine survival and population consequences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e102946
JournalPLoS ONE
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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