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Bird's eye view of a highway

bats and noise


The use of sound to communicate, forage and navigate is essential to a wide range of species who are nocturnal or active in other visually-limited environments. As human activity continues to temporally and spatially encroach on such species, the disturbance risk of anthropogenic noise (anthrophony) increases.

Noise is defined as sound that serves no function. Several key mechanisms have been proposed to explain how noise

pollution impacts the behaviour of organisms, these include masking (signal and noise overlap in frequency and time), distracting (signal and noise overlap in time), misleading (noise mimics signal) and aversion (noise acts as deterrence), many of which can operate simultaneously. In the absence of sufficient habituation, chronic noise exposure could have detrimental impacts on the viability of many sound -sensitive and -dependent populations, such as bats.


The impacts of anthrophony on bats present significant challenges for consultant ecologists and developers responsible for delivering new urban development in line with UK legislation which protects bats from disturbance. PhD student, Maya, will combine novel field experiments with before and after impact experiments to identify the impacts of anthropogenic noise on bats. Working closely with industry partner RSK Biocensus, Maya’s findings will directly inform the development of new stakeholder and practitioner guidance for bats and their habitats, which will feed into national guidance.

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