Universiteit Leiden

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The effects of anthropogenic noise

Hans Slabbekoorn, researcher at the Institute of Biology Leiden, is one of the editors of the latest volume of the Springer Handbook of Auditory Research (SHAR). This book is filled with everything known about the effects of sound on vertebrates. Slabbekoorn’s contribution to the book as a co-author is in two chapters on hearing and noise impact for terrestrial mammals and birds.

Noise annoys

The world is getting ever more noisy, due to traffic and all sorts of motorized tools and industrial machinery. Noisy conditions can detrimentally influence our mood and our health and interfere with communication and performance. Also animals may be negatively affected by sounds generated by human activities. So-called ‘anthropogenic noise’ may disturb, deter and also damage their hearing. Vocally communicating animals, such as birds and frogs, can also suffer from masking, while animals from a wide variety of taxa have been shown to become slower or less accurate in critical tasks like fleeing and foraging.

Consequences reviewed

The Springer Handbook of Auditory Research concerns an authoritative series of books with synthetic reviews of fundamental topics dealing with the auditory system. This volume on anthropogenic noise provides a critical introduction to fundamental principles of hearing and acoustics and includes taxonomically organized reviews on what is known about noise-impact on behaviour, physiological stress, and physical damage. Hans Slabbekoorn was invited to join the editorial board because of his work in this field over the last 15 years. Although he currently has most of his research efforts addressing the effects of sound on fishes, his contributions to the book as a co-author, in two of the taxonomic review chapters, is on terrestrial mammals and birds.

Schematic overview of the nature and contribution of noise impact studies to the fundamental understanding and societal relevance of insights into the potential effects of man-made sounds on animals.
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