While many might consider a walk in the woods to be a quiet, peaceful escape from their noisy urban life, we often don't consider just how incredibly noisy some natural environments can be. Although we use soothing natural sounds in our daily lives--to relax or for meditation--the thunder of a mountain river or the crash of pounding surf have likely been changing how animals communicate and where they live for eons. A new experimental study published in the journal Nature Communications finds that birds and bats often avoid habitat swamped with loud whitewater river noise. The open-access article is titled “Phantom Rivers Filter Birds and Bats By Acoustic Niche.” Dr. Dylan Gomes, a recent PhD graduate of Boise State University and first author on the paper, summarizes the aims of the work this way, "naturally-loud environments have been largely neglected in ecological research. We aimed to test the hypothesis that intense natural noise can shape animal distributions and behavior by experimentally broadcasting whitewater river noise at a massive scale."
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