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Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22, which is seen as the day the environmental movement officially started in 1970. The movement was spurred into creation by an oil spill off the California coast in 1969, and celebrating the anniversary of its birth encourages us to continually look for ways to mitigate our impact on our planet.
While we may all be aware of climate change and air pollution, noise pollution might not get the attention it deserves. Busy roads and planes flying by can be annoying to us, but their impact on animals should not be overlooked. Environmental noise can have profound effects on how they hunt, mate and live. Below are some facts on how the noises we generate interfere with animals.
- Noisy areas are unlivable for some birds, especially those with lower frequency calls. Some birds have been able to adapt their calls to be heard over the noise, but it has been found that birds with lower frequencies have not, making it harder to communicate and find mates.
- Birdsong, while enjoyable to humans, is critical for survival. It wards off rivals and warns of predators. Birds unable to hear each other leave noisy areas, which has been found to impact their former homes. The scrub jay in New Mexico stores seeds by burying them, and the forgotten seeds grow and replenish the forest.
- Owls and bats are especially affected by plane and traffic noise, as it impacts their abilities to effectively hunt. Some scientists believe this could put these animals at risk of extinction.
- Grey and European tree frogs are struggling to adapt their mating calls to compensate for increases in noise. Scientists expect to see drops in their populations as their ability to find mates declines.
- Studies have shown that excessive noise can permanently increase blood pressure, heart rate, and stress levels in animals. Increased stress in turn makes animals more susceptible to disease and less perceptive to detecting predators.
What may seem like a small nuisance to us can deeply affect animals, as they are much more sensitive to noise. While most research on the impact of noise pollution focuses on individual species, scientists are beginning to find that it has a far-reaching impact on all aspects of the environment. Therefore, it is important that we take the necessary steps to minimize the noise we generate and its impact on our environment. Although it is impossible to eliminate all noise in our environment noise barriers have proven to be a highly effective tool for outdoor noise mitigation.
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