Noise pollution holds a special interest for me as a particularly underrated environmental threat. We’ve become so accustomed to noise that I think we don’t realize what it does to us, both emotionally and physically. It certainly does my head in :).
.. and it creates problems in the animal world, for instance, frogs.
Australian researcher Kirsten Parris has found traffic noise could be hampering the reproductive process of frogs in metropolitan areas by drowning out the mating calls of males.
Noise levels could be among the reasons why frog numbers have declined in the city of Melbourne since Kirsten’s survey of over 100 ponds began in 2000.
Frog species with low pitched calls are most affected as they blend in with low frequency sounds of vehicles according to Ms. Parris. Some frogs have even gone to the extremes of raising the pitch of their croak in order to be heard above the noise.
The popplebonk frog’s call (great name for a frog) can be heard by females over a distance of 875 yards (800 meters) without background noise; but near busy roads, the range drops to just 46 feet (14 meters).
Frogs are somewhat canaries in the coal mine in terms of the health of our aquatic systems and while we tend to focus on issues such as chemical contamination of waterways; it seems we should be considering noise as well.
Nature is wonderful at adapting, but it can’t always adapt as fast as needed or suitably. That results in extinction… and we’re in the midst of a massive extinction event right now.
Noise pollution is something that we can all play a role in reducing – here’s hoping for a quieter world.