Noisy environments: Untangling the role of anthropogenic noise on bird species richness in a Neotropical City

Cecilia Odette Carral-Murrieta, Michelle García-Arroyo, Oscar H. Marín-Gómez, J. Roberto Sosa-López, Ian Macgregor-Fors

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    Background: Among urban stimuli, anthropogenic noise has been identified to be one of the behavioral drivers of species that rely on acoustic signals for communication. Studies have shown both species-specific and assemblage responses to urban noise, ranging from the modulation of their acoustic frequencies and spatiotemporal adjustments to declines in species richness. In this study, we assessed the citywide relationship between two anthropogenic noise variables (noise levels recorded during bird surveys and daily average noise levels) and vegetation cover with bird species richness. Methods: This study was conducted in the city of Xalapa (Mexico) through a 114 citywide point-count survey. We recorded bird communities at each sampling site. We measured noise levels using a sound level meter while performing point-counts. Then, we generated a map of average daily noise of the city using an array of 61 autonomous recording units distributed across the city of Xalapa and calculated daily noise levels for the 114 points. We ran a linear model (LM) to assess potential relationships between both point-count and daily (24 h) noise values and vegetation cover with bird richness. Results: Results from the LM show: (1) a negative relationship between maximum point-count noise and avian species richness, (2) no relationship between 24 h noise and bird species richness, and (3) a positive relationship between vegetation cover and bird species richness. Conclusions: Results provide evidence that decreases in urban bird species richness do not necessarily imply the permanent absence of species, suggesting that birds can temporarily fly away from or avoid sites when noisy, become cryptic while noisy events are occurring, or be undetected due to our inability to record them in the field during noisy events.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number32
    JournalAvian Research
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Dec 2020


    • Avian ecology
    • Bird communication
    • Noise pollution
    • Species richness
    • Urban ecology


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