Effects of experimentally elevated traffic noise on nestling white-crowned sparrow stress physiology, immune function and life history

Ondi L. Crino*, Erin E. Johnson, Jessica L. Blickley, Gail L. Patricelli, Creagh W. Breuner

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    74 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Roads have been associated with behavioral and physiological changes in wildlife. In birds, roads decrease reproductive success and biodiversity and increase physiological stress. Although the consequences of roads on individuals and communities have been well described, the mechanisms through which roads affect birds remain largely unexplored. Here, we examine one mechanism through which roads could affect birds: traffic noise. We exposed nestling mountain white-crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys oriantha) to experimentally elevated traffic noise for 5?days during the nestling period. Following exposure to traffic noise we measured nestling stress physiology, immune function, body size, condition and survival. Based on prior studies, we expected the traffic noise treatment to result in elevated stress hormones (glucocorticoids), and declines in immune function, body size, condition and survival. Surprisingly, nestlings exposed to traffic noise had lower glucocorticoid levels and improved condition relative to control nests. These results indicate that traffic noise does affect physiology and development in white-crowned sparrows, but not at all as predicted. Therefore, when evaluating the mechanisms through which roads affect avian populations, other factors (e.g. edge effects, pollution and mechanical vibration) may be more important than traffic noise in explaining elevated nestling stress responses in this species.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2055-2062
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
    Volume216
    Issue number11
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

    Keywords

    • Development
    • Nestling
    • Stress physiology
    • Traffic noise

    Fingerprint

    Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of experimentally elevated traffic noise on nestling white-crowned sparrow stress physiology, immune function and life history'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this