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Traffic Noise Disrupts Fish Sex, Study Finds

posted: 05/21/15
by: Danny Clemens
Kissing Fish
Ammit/iStock

Mating is pretty simple for the blacktail shiner, a small freshwater fish that wriggles through the waters of the southern United States: the male fish emits a deep, purr-like growl that lets the ladies know he is single and ready to mingle. Once he finds a mate and the happy couple has laid a nest of fertilized eggs, the male employs a threatening knocking sound to keep other males away from his developing spawn.

According to a new study published in Biological Conservation, an increase in human traffic near the blacktail shiner's mating grounds is getting in the way of the small fish's mating. On top of natural sounds like waterfalls and other wildlife, the noise generated by train, boat and automobile traffic makes it harder for shiners to pick up each other's mating and warning calls. Using hydrophones submerged in streams, researchers found that noise pollution from traffic can drown out natural sounds for more than a 7-mile radius.

Click here for more information from Science Magazine

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