How Does Noise Pollution Affect the Environment?

An increasing number of studies indicate that wildlife is stressed by noise pollution causing a variety of impacts on the environment by disturbing mammal, bird and fish feeding and breeding patterns. According to the National Park Service, these effects are compounded by other stressors including disease and extreme weather.

Sound plays a key role in the ecosystem. The National Park Service indicates that the acoustical environment affects wildlife in terms of its ability to find adequate habitat, avoid predators, protect young, locate food and attract a mate. As noise pollution from human beings in the form of motor vehicle and airplane traffic among other causes increases, wildlife is forced to adapt in ways that are not sustainable. For example researchers discovered that the males of a particular frog species began calling at a higher pitch in an effort to distinguish their calls from traffic noise. However, the females of that species prefer a lower pitch, which means there is less successful mating within the species in general.

The Environmental Protection Agency defines noise pollution as any sound that is disturbing or unwanted. In human terms this usually includes sounds that disrupt sleep or conversation or otherwise erode a person's quality of life. The same holds true for wildlife, only with far more dire consequences.