Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

20 years of Harry Potter

Read more

THE DEBATE

Modi meets Trump: The ties that bind US and India leaders

Read more

FOCUS

Left-wing activism on the rise in the United States

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

'Huge failure' on refugee crisis is 'existential problem for EU'

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Divisions over migration policy: What should the EU do?

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

A trip through France's breathtaking Auvergne region

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

When Modi met Trump: Budding romance or one-night stand?

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

How to counter Islamic State group propaganda?

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Coal power plant in Senegal worries residents; and the Venezuelan TV show... in a bus

Read more

Noise pollution risks animals' survival in the wild: study

© Getty/AFP/File | Extra noise such as oil and gas exploration, fracking for natural gas, timber and mining activities, motorcycles and vehicle traffic could risk animal survival

MIAMI (AFP) - 

Human noise is polluting more than half of natural protected areas in the United States, to such an extent that it could interfere with animals' ability to hunt and survive, researchers said Thursday.

Sounds were recorded at 492 sites meant as havens for biodiversity across the country, said the report in the journal Science.

Researchers found that background noise exceeded three decibels (dB) in 63 percent of protected areas, it said.

In 21 percent of areas, background noise was 10 dB higher than it would have been without the influence of humans.

This meant between "a doubling and tenfold increase in sound levels above natural," said lead author Rachel Buxton, a conservation biologist at Colorado State University.

Another way to look at it, Buxton said, is that human-caused noise has reduced the area where natural sounds can be heard by 50 and 90 percent.

"So if you could have heard something at 100 feet (30 meters) away, now you can only hear it from 10 to 50 feet away," she said.

A computer algorithm was used to estimate the baseline for natural sounds in an area, based on its unique features.

The sources of the extra noise include oil and gas exploration, fracking for natural gas, timber and mining activities, motorcycles and vehicle traffic, and just general human development.

The impact of the added noise could be vast.

"Birds may have a harder time finding a mate, or a prey species may not be able to hear the approach of a predator and may be more likely to be eaten," Buxton said.

"Even if only one species is actually being affected by noise directly, these impacts may cascade through an ecological community."

Researchers said the study shows that human noise pollution, while often considered a city problem, is much more far-reaching than previously understood.

© 2017 AFP