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Wednesday, January 27 • 10:20am - 10:40am
Mitigating The Negative Effects of Road Noise On Songbird Abundance With Conspecific Playback

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AUTHORS: Matthew J. Schepers*, Calvin College; Darren S. Proppe, Calvin College, Au Sable Institute

ABSTRACT: Noise from human activity is known to reduce diversity and abundance in many animal species. Songbirds are especially susceptible because of their reliance on vocal communication. Many songbirds are declining in areas with high levels of noise. While chronic noise clearly disrupts acoustic communication under conditions such as a high-use highway, songbird abundance is also reduced in locations exposed to intermittent noise. In this case, reduced abundance may be due to fear of novel stimuli rather than a true reduction to fitness. Playback of conspecific bird song is a signal of high-quality habitat for many songbird species. If fear is inhibiting establishment in noisy areas, playback of multiple species’ songs may help reestablish songbird communities. We investigated whether playback of six migratory species near moderate-use roads increased songbird territory establishment and community diversity in playback areas. To evaluate the effect on the broader community, we also measured twenty-four non-focal species. When combined for all species, playback sites had significantly higher territory density per hectare. Focal species were more diverse at playback sites, and four of six focal species were more common, although density increases were not significant. Non-focal species increased density at playback sites, but were no more diverse. Our results suggest conspecific song playback may be a viable tool to mitigate effects of anthropogenic noise for some songbird species, although future studies are needed to assess songbird fitness in these areas.

Wednesday January 27, 2016 10:20am - 10:40am EST
Emerald A