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Echo Barrier Blog

Rock n’ roll is noise pollution, according to ladybirds

Posted by Tom Peary on May 24, 2019 10:40:00 AM | Acoustic Barriers|Events Related

If AC/DC are to be believed “rock n’ roll ain’t noise pollution”.

But a recent study has found scientific evidence to the contrary. A group of students from Mississippi State University, led by their professor and music fan Brandon Barton, found that by playing tracks from the rock band’s album Back in Black they could chart the effects of noise pollution throughout an ecosystem. The study was carried out on ladybirds who were placed within small enclosures with a known number of aphids to eat and allowed to forage in silence or under loud conditions.
Different types of music were played via computer speakers at 95-100 decibels. While country and folk music had no impact on the number of aphids the ladybirds consumed, playing AC/DC and other rock music cut the amount of aphids being eaten in half.
This also happened when playing the bugs traffic noise. Professor Barton said: “Yes, our experiment may sound silly or frivolous but our hope is to focus a little more attention on how sounds – whether Angus Young’s guitar licks or the steady drone from a busy highway – can affect ecosystems.”  

Noise and nature Noise pollution has been recognised as a threat for wildlife. Sounds produced by vehicles, oil and gas fields and urban sprawl have been found to interfere with the way animals communicate, mate and prey on one another. In Canada, the number of frog species has fallen as traffic density increases. In Africa, the species richness of primates and carnivores falls within 30 metres of roads. And in The Netherlands, 60% of woodland bird species avoid roads. Great tits have been found to sing at higher frequencies in response to urban noise, so they are better able to hear each other. 
But not all animals are able to adapt in this way. Female grey tree frogs exposed to the sounds of passing traffic take longer to locate and find calling males, while European tree frogs call less overall. Crucially, both species appear unable to change their calling habitats to overcome the din from the roads, potentially compromising their ability to reproduce. Other studies have found that winged wildlife such as bats and owls who use sound to hunt are increasingly finding it hard to find prey in the wild.  

Rocking and rolling Clearly the most recent research has disagreed with AC/DC presumption that rock ‘n’ roll is not noise pollution, at least for ladybirds. But it is also proof that sound pollution can have pervasive effects throughout an ecosystem. Here at Echo Barrier, our aim is to reduce the impact of noise pollution – on humans and wildlife. Our acoustic barriers provide a sound mitigation system that absorbs noise – such as that made on a construction site or at a rock concert. They are safe and easy to handle, durable, weather resistant, lightweight and take limited manpower and time to install and move around a site.

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