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Avian Conservation and Ecology


Noise is an increasingly common component of the natural world, due in large part to human activity. Anthropogenic noise negatively impacts abundance, health, and reproduction in many songbird populations. A few studies have reported altered abundance at larger scales. But whether continental trends are being detected at banding stations, which also offer data on productivity and survivorship, is unknown. Further, it is not known whether localized trends correlate with population trends observed at larger scales. We used breeding season data from 1160 constant-effort banding stations (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship; MAPS) and a spatially explicit noise model to determine whether abundance and productivity were related to mean noise level or spatial heterogeneity (SD) in noise within a 1-km station radius for 72 passerine species. We also determined whether particular life history traits were predictive of noise responses, and compared continental results to those from local studies. Increasing mean noise level was associated with declines in abundance for 27.1% of species and productivity in 22.1% species. Increasing heterogeneity was associated with declines in abundance for 14.3% species and productivity in 14.7% species. The relationship between noise and abundance was not correlated with the relationship between noise and productivity, and acoustic and life history traits were not related to noise responses. Continental results were similar to localized data in 43.1% and 21.4% of species for abundance and productivity, respectively. Although some patterns differed between the local and continental scale, our results indicate that the MAPS banding dataset is capable of detecting noise-associated impacts on abundance and productivity. This is currently the only large-scale dataset capable of quantifying the relationship between noise and productivity in the continental USA, although other datasets exist elsewhere that may also contribute to our understanding of noise impacts at the larger scale.

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