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Title: Effects of anthropogenic noise on fish behaviour
Author: Voellmy, Irene Katharina
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2013
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Human activities have considerably increased environmental noise levels in air and underwater. This can negatively affect physiology and behaviour in animals of all taxa. However, few studies considered behaviours crucial for survival and reproduction, on which detrimental effects could lead directly to negative fitness consequences. Moreover, although noise effects will most likely be species specific due to different adaptations, few comparative studies exist. In my PhD thesis, I focused on the impact of increased noise levels on fish, as they are highly diverse and an important factor in ecosystems and human economy. In Chapters 2 and 3, I investigated impacts of exposures to playbacks of ship-noise recordings on anti-predator and foraging behaviour of two sympatric fish species, the three spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) and European minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus). Both species showed impaired anti-predator behaviour and decreased food consumption in response to ship-noise playbacks. However, ways of effects differed between species. Animals kept in captivity are also exposed to various sound sources, often exceeding natural sound levels. Elevated noise levels in animal facilities can affect animal welfare, but their potential to modify conclusions drawn from experiments has not been investigated. In Chapter 4, I explored tank modifications reducing vibrations and noise fluctuations. Modifications of water filters, aeration and tank substrate achieved substantial noise reductions. In Chapter 5, I investigated how different noise levels in holding tanks affected responses in minnows to experimental ship-playbacks and thus research conclusions. These experiments showed that behavioural responses to experimental playbacks indeed depended on holding conditions. My findings show that fish anti-predator and foraging behaviour can be impaired by noise species-specifically. If fish could not compensate for noise impacts, species communities may be affected. My findings also show that previous exposure to elevated noise levels can affect research conclusions and is therefore a vital consideration when designing experiments.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available