Anthropogenic noise is an emerging global pollutant. Road networks and energy extraction infrastructure are both spatially extensive and rapidly expanding sources of noise. We predict that predators reliant on acoustic cues for hunting are particularly sensitive to louder environments. Here we examined the foraging efficiency of pallid bats (Antrozous pallidus) when exposed to played-back traffic and gas compressor station noise in the laboratory. We show that both types of noise at each of five exposure levels (58–76 dBA, 10–640 m from source) and low-level amplifier noise (35 dBA) increase the time required for bats to locate prey-generated sounds by twofold to threefold. The mechanism underlying these findings is unclear and, given the potential landscape-level habitat degradation indicated by our data, we recommend continued research into the effects of noise exposure on acoustically specialized predators.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/jesse_barber/20/