Going Global: Individual to Community-Level Responses to Noise and Light

Monday, 16 February 2015: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
Room LL21E (San Jose Convention Center)
Clinton D. Francis,California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA
The acoustic environment and natural cycle of day and night are of fundamental importance to countless species. Yet two prominent and underappreciated features of anthropogenic environmental change, noise and artificial light, are creating acoustic condition and light regimes that are highly novel across the globe. These stimuli can compromise the sensory systems by interfering with organisms’ abilities to obtain, interpret and respond to environmental cues and alter biological clocks. Here we summarize the weight of current evidence that indicates that these aspects of human-induced environmental change can be powerful forces that require greater attention by biologists. We show that anthropogenic noise can drastically reduce avian diversity, disrupt avian physiological systems and behavior and alter several ecological interactions among community members. Similarly, at the individual level, we present evidence that exposure to light at night has several behavioral and physiological effects that can trigger reduced biological function and possibly reduced longevity. Despite these clear responses by individuals, whether and how light at night alters population and community dynamics remains unknown. We conclude by presenting new findings from a continental analysis demonstrating the relevance of the sensory environment to birds.