All noisy on the Western front

Posted: Apr 10, 2012

Written by

CALLY CARSWELL, High Country News

In recent years, scientists have started paying more attention to how the mix of sounds made by critters, people and the earth itself in a given area -- the "soundscape" -- changes over time and space.

An ongoing study in New Mexico on how noise from oil and gas development impacts the environment made public intriguing new findings -- that, as Katrina Marland, blogging for American Forests put it, "industrial noise can literally transform a landscape," influencing which plants grow and which birds thrive.

Before we get into the details, here's some background on the groundbreaking study, which is unique because researchers were able to control for noise from oil and gas activity, allowing them to study its direct impact on birdlife. They looked at sites with nearly identical plants, weather, topography, and predator-prey relationships. One set of sites was infiltrated by noise from compressors, while the other wasn't.

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