Motorboat noise impacts parental behaviour and offspring survival in a reef fish
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
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Anthropogenic noise is a pollutant of international concern, with mounting evidence of disturbance and impacts on animal behaviour and physiology. However, empirical studies measuring survival consequences are rare. We use a field experiment to investigate how repeated motorboat-noise playback affects parental behaviour and offspring survival in the spiny chromis (Acanthochromis polyacanthus), a brooding coral reef fish. Repeated observations were made for 12 days at 38 natural nests with broods of young. Exposure to motorboat-noise playback compared to ambient-sound playback increased defensive acts, and reduced both feeding and offspring interactions by brood-guarding males. Anthropogenic noise did not affect the growth of developing offspring, but reduced the likelihood of offspring survival; while offspring survived at all 19 nests exposed to ambient-sound playback, six of the 19 nests exposed to motorboat-noise playback suffered complete brood mortality. Our study, providing field-based experimental evidence of the consequences of anthropogenic noise, suggests potential fitness consequences of this global pollutant.
This work was supported by a NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship (for S.D.S.; NE/J500616/2), the UK Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (S.D.S. and A.N.R.; ME5207), funds from ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (M.I.M; EI140100117), an EPSRC studentship and Subacoustech (S.L.N.).
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from the Royal Society via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 284 (1856), article 20170143