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Anthropogenic Noise Affects Behavior across Sensory Modalities

Hansjoerg P. Kunc, Gillian N. Lyons, Julia D. Sigwart, Kirsty E. McLaughlin and Jonathan D. R. Houghton
The American Naturalist
Vol. 184, No. 4 (October 2014), pp. E93-E100
DOI: 10.1086/677545
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/677545
Page Count: 8
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Anthropogenic Noise Affects Behavior across Sensory Modalities
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Abstract

AbstractMany species are currently experiencing anthropogenically driven environmental changes. Among these changes, increasing noise levels are specifically a problem for species using acoustic signals (i.e., species relying on signals that use the same sensory modality as anthropogenic noise). Yet many species use other sensory modalities, such as visual and olfactory signals, to communicate. However, we have only little understanding of whether changes in the acoustic environment affect species that use sensory modalities other than acoustic signals. We studied the impact of anthropogenic noise on the common cuttlefish Sepia officinalis, which uses highly complex visual signals. We showed that cuttlefish adjusted their visual displays by changing their color more frequently during a playback of anthropogenic noise, compared with before and after the playback. Our results provide experimental evidence that anthropogenic noise has a marked effect on the behavior of species that are not reliant on acoustic communication. Thus, interference in one sensory channel, in this case the acoustic one, affects signaling in other sensory channels. By considering sensory channels in isolation, we risk overlooking the broader implications of environmental changes for the behavior of animals.

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