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Robert J. Dooling
Department of Psychology University of Maryland College Park, Maryland 20742 USA
David Buehler
ICF 980 9th Street Suite 1200 Sacramento, California 95814 USA
Marjorie R. Leek
VA Loma Linda Healthcare System 11201 Benton Street Loma Linda, California 92357 USA
Arthur N. Popper
Department of Biology University of Maryland College Park, Maryland 20742 USA
Birds, like humans, have problems with hearing in the presence of urban and traffic noise.
Noise Is a Universal Problem
Who has not had the problem of conversing in a noisy restaurant, near a busy highway, or in a congested city street in a large metropolitan area? Other well-doc- umented adverse consequences of elevated noise levels on humans include masking, hearing loss, stress, physiological and sleep disturbances, changes in feelings of well-being, elevated cholesterol levels, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease- related deaths (e.g., den Boer and Schroten, 2007; World Health Organization, 2011; Münzel et al., 2018). Recent studies show that the increasing anthropogenic con- tributions to the soundscape have the potential to significantly impact not only communication but also the behavior, health, and well-being of wildlife (e.g., Brooks et al., 2014; Shannon et al., 2015; Murphy, 2017; Slabbekoorn, 2018).
Put another way, changes in the auditory world, the soundscape or auditory scene, clearly have an effect on wildlife as well as on humans (e.g., Brooks et al., 2014; Murphy and King, 2014). These potential effects occur in a wide range of terrestrial and aquatic species, and this has become a topic of increased interest to scientists, environmentalists, and government resource agencies as well as city planners and roadway and construction engineers and investigators (e.g., Shannon et al., 2015; Slabbekoorn, 2018; Slabbekoorn et al., 2018).
Interestingly, among terrestrial animals, birds may be uniquely at risk from increases in anthropogenic noise. This is because most birds are highly vocal and rely on vocalizations to defend their territories, maintain social relationships, and find mates. There are over 10,000 species of birds, and probably half of them, the song- birds, parrots, and hummingbirds, must learn their species-specific vocalizations by hearing those of adults of their own species (Marler and Slabbekoorn, 2004). This widespread characteristic of extensive vocal learning and communication in birds is shared only with humans.
Birds and Noise
This paper focuses on the long-standing concern that urban and traffic noise may be detrimental to wildlife, and especially birds, that rely heavily on acoustic communi- cation. The US Endangered Species Act provides additional, compelling motivation for understanding the effects of traffic and construction noise on federally listed bird species that are in danger of extinction. The effects of urban, construction, or traffic noise are probably of little consequence when the noise adds very little to existing ambient-noise levels. By contrast, when traffic noise does add significantly to background noise levels, such as heavy traffic in quieter suburban and rural areas, this extra noise has the potential to produce a suite of significant short- and long- term sensory, behavioral, and physiological changes in birds. These may include
The Impact of Urban and Traffic Noise on Birds
 ©2019 Acoustical Society of America. All rights reserved. volume 15, issue 3 | Fall 2019 | Acoustics Today | 19

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