Repeated exposure reduces the response to impulsive noise in European seabass
Global Change Biology
© 2016 The Authors. Global Change Biology Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use,distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Human activities have changed the acoustic environment of many terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems around the globe. Mounting evidence indicates that the resulting anthropogenic noise can impact the behaviour and physiology of at least some species in a range of taxa. However, the majority of experimental studies have considered only immediate responses to single, relatively short-term noise events. Repeated exposure to noise could lead to a heightened or lessened response. Here, we conduct two long-term (12 week), laboratory-based exposure experiments with European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) to examine how an initial impact of different sound types potentially changes over time. Naïve fish showed elevated ventilation rates, indicating heightened stress, in response to impulsive additional noise (playbacks of recordings of pile-driving and seismic surveys), but not to a more continuous additional noise source (playbacks of recordings of ship passes). However, fish exposed to playbacks of pile-driving or seismic noise for 12 weeks no longer responded with an elevated ventilation rate to the same noise type. Fish exposed long-term to playback of pile-driving noise also no longer responded to short-term playback of seismic noise. The lessened response after repeated exposure, likely driven by increased tolerance or a change in hearing threshold, helps explain why fish that experienced 12 weeks of impulsive noise showed no differences in stress, growth or mortality compared to those reared with exposure to ambient-noise playback. Considering how responses to anthropogenic noise change with repeated exposure is important both when assessing likely fitness consequences and the need for mitigation measures.
Funding was provided by CGG; SDS held a NERC KE Fellowship (NE/J500616/2). The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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