Does experimentally quieting traffic noise benefit people and birds?

Mitchell J. Levenhagen, Zachary D. Miller, Alissa R. Petrelli, Lauren A. Ferguson, Yau Huo Jimmy Shr, B. Derrick Taff, Kurt M. Fristrup, Christopher J.W. McClure, Shan Burson, Michael Giamellaro, Peter Newman, Clinton D. Francis, Jesse R. Barber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Protected natural areas are not free from noise, especially noise generated by traffic within park boundaries. Natural soundscapes are important for maintaining community structure, providing positive visitor experiences, and increasing visitor support for management actions that reduce impacts on natural resources. To test experimental quieting as a strategy to increase both wildlife habitat quality and visitor experience, we enforced decreased speed limits and presented educational signage to reduce sound levels along a road system in an alternating, on–off block design within Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA. We continuously recorded background sound levels while conducting bird space use assessments and visitor-intercept surveys along the experimental corridor. Our mitigation approach lowered sound levels during sign-present weeks, yet there was no relationship between bird space use near roadways and traffic noise, perhaps due to the increased duration of noise exposure created by lower speed limits. There was, however, a relationship between visitor perception of birdsong diversity and background sound level. Critically, visitors preferred soundscape mitigation strategies limiting personal access in exchange for better experiences in natural soundscapes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number32
JournalEcology and Society
Volume26
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology

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