Repeated exposure reduces the response to impulsive noise in European seabass

Andy Radford, Laurie Lebre, Gilles Lecaillon, Sophie Nedelec, Steve D Simpson

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

61 Citations (Scopus)
405 Downloads (Pure)


Human activities have changed the acoustic environment of many terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems around the globe. Mounting evidence indicates that the resulting anthropogenic noise can impact the behaviour and physiology of at least some species in a range of taxa. However, the majority of experimental studies have considered only immediate responses to single, relatively short-term noise events. Repeated exposure to noise could lead to a heightened or lessened response. Here we conduct two long-term (12 week) exposure experiments with European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) to examine how an initial impact of different sound types potentially changes over time. Naïve fish showed elevated ventilation rates, indicating heightened stress, in response to impulsive additional noise (playbacks of recordings of pile-driving and seismic surveys), but not to a more continuous additional-noise source (playbacks of recordings of ship passes). However, fish exposed to playbacks of pile-driving or seismic noise for 12 weeks no longer responded with an elevated ventilation rate to the same noise type. Fish exposed long-term to playback of pile-driving noise also no longer responded to short-term playback of seismic noise. The lessened response after repeated exposure, likely driven by increased tolerance or a change in hearing threshold, helps explain why fish that experienced 12 weeks of impulsive noise showed no differences in stress, growth or mortality compared to those reared with exposure to ambient-noise playback. Considering how responses to anthropogenic noise change with repeated exposure is important both when assessing likely fitness consequences and the need for mitigation measures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3349-3360
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number10
Early online date10 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • anthropogenic noise
  • Dicentrarchus labrax
  • European sea bass
  • growth
  • habituation
  • hearing threshold
  • pollution
  • tolerance
  • stress
  • ventilation rate


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