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Trees and Ecosystems Also Get Affected by Noise Pollution, New Study Finds


Usually, people only think that pollution comes from gases like CO2, NOx or different chemicals that visibly harm the environment and us. On the other hand, there’s the pollution that we live in every day and that prevents us from focusing right, annoys and leads to mental diseases… it’s the noise. However, scientists have recently found out that plants are also affected by noise – indirectly.

Discovery News posted an article on how noise can actually affect an entire ecosystem by means of sophisticated strings that involve birds, mice and seeds.

This type noise impact analyses haven’t been done before. Earlier work only focused on a single species, but this one takes on a wider perspective.

“But what we have to realize is that if we see a disturbance in a species that is really important for the community, it is going to have these cascading effects throughout the ecosystem. And we might see some really large-scale changes due to the responses of one or two important species,” Clinton Francis, an evolutionary ecologist at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, N.C. told Discovery.

Francis and his team analyzed the impact of noise on scrub jays. It’s known that these birds collect pine tree seeds for surviving in winter. On the other hand, scrub jays predate the hummingbirds’ nests, so when they leave an area because of noise, hummingbirds settle in.

But causing jays to leave marks the start of a chain effect throughout the local ecosystem. As the team found by spying the birds with hidden cameras, scrub jays don’t eat all the seeds they gather, so a part of them is left untouched and spreads, planting new trees.

However, when jays leave, mice take their place and eat the seeds, so there’s no chance for them to pass through the digestive tract untamed or get left behind, which causes piñon pines to slowly disappear from the area.

To reduce noise and diminish its impact on the ecosystems surrounding us and whose beneficial effects we take for granted, money have to be invested in quieter vehicles, speed limits have to be adjusted and people have to be made aware of their actions, even if they’re not directly involved.

[via ecofriend/discovery]

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