Noise pollution affects humans as well as animals. However, a US study over fifteen years that was the subject of a recent publication affirms that this type of pollution also impacts trees. According to the researchers, this causes an impoverishment of the diversity of the vegetation in the places concerned.
The noise scares away essential birds from trees
In 2018, we discussed how noise pollution could impact birdsong. This causes in these animals chronic stress negatively influencing their biological clock and therefore their ability to mate. Before that, several studies had already affirmed that noise will be the next big public health crisis in urban spaces. In humans, noise pollution thus causes hypertension, insomnia, other sleep disorders and obviously, hearing loss.
A study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B April 14, 2021 underlines that noise also harms to trees and vegetation in general. Above all, its effects can last a long time after a possible return to silence. Biologists at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo (United States) have found a reduction in 75% of young pine shoots gable in noisy areas, compared to quieter areas.
The researchers then looked at areas where the noise pollution had disappeared. The goal was to observe the reaction of the trees, assuming that in the absence of noise, they would recover fairly quickly. They indeed assumed that the birds were going come back and scatter the seeds trees on the now silent plots.
A lack of consideration of the problem of noise pollution
However, the results show a long-term decline young shoots. The birds do not return to the previously noisy plots. Some species like the scrub jay even learn to avoid certain areas. In short, eliminating the noise does not necessarily lead to a resumption of ecological functions. Researchers believe that animals may take some time to rediscover places previously too noisy. However, this duration is impossible to quantify.
“The effects of noise pollution caused by humans infiltrate the structure of these forest communities”, said Clint Francis, co-author of the study.
In the meantime, biologists believe that the assessment of the impacts of urbanization on nature must take into account noise pollution, but also light pollution, both too often ignored.