Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

Man-made underwater sound may have wider ecosystem effects than previously thought
by Staff Writers
Southampton, UK (SPX) Feb 11, 2016

This is a langoustine (Nephrops norvegicus). Image courtesy University of Southampton. For a larger version of this image please go here.

Underwater sound linked to human activity could alter the behaviour of seabed creatures that play a vital role in marine ecosystems, according to new research from the University of Southampton.

The study, reported in the journal Scientific Reports published by Nature, found that exposure to sounds that resemble shipping traffic and offshore construction activities results in behavioural responses in certain invertebrate species that live in the marine sediment.

These species make a crucial contribution to the seabed ecosystem as their burrowing and bioirrigation activities (how much the organism moves water in and out of the sediment by its actions) are crucial in nutrient recycling and carbon storage.

The study showed that some man-made sounds can cause certain species to reduce irrigation and sediment turnover. Such reductions can lead to the formation of compacted sediments that suffer reduced oxygen, potentially becoming anoxic (depleted of dissolved oxygen and a more severe condition of hypoxia), which may have an impact on seabed productivity, sediment biodiversity and also fisheries production.

Lead author Martin Solan, Professor in Marine Ecology, said: "Coastal and shelf environments support high levels of biodiversity that are vital in mediating ecosystem processes, but they are also subject to noise associated with increasing levels of offshore human activity. Previous work has almost exclusively focussed on direct physiological or behavioural responses in marine mammals and fish, and has not previously addressed the indirect impacts of sound on ecosystem properties.

"Our study provides evidence that exposing coastal environments to anthropogenic sound fields is likely to have much wider ecosystem consequences than are presently understood."

The Southampton researchers exposed three species - the langoustine (Nephrops norvegicus), a slim, orange-pink lobster which grows up to 25 cm long, the Manila clam (Ruditapes philippinarum) and the brittlestar (Amphiura filfiformis) - to two different types of underwater sound fields: continuous broadband noise (CBN) that mimics shipping traffic and intermittent broadband noise (IBN) reflecting marine construction activity.

The sounds were reproduced in controlled test tanks and experiments were run on one species at a time. For CBN, a recording (one minute duration, continuously looped) of a ship made in the English Channel at a distance of around 100 metres was used'. For IBN, a recording (two minutes duration, continuously looped) of a wind farm in the North Sea at a distance of about 60 metres was used.

The results showed that the sounds could alter the way these species behaved when interacting with their environments.

With the langoustine, which disturbs the sediment to create burrows in which it lives, the researchers saw a reduction in the depth of sediment redistribution (how much of the surface sediment was overturned into the deeper layers) with exposure to IBN or CBN. Under CBN and IBN there was evidence that bioirrigation increased.

The Manila clam, a commercial fishery species in Europe that lives in the sediment and connects to the overlying water through a retractable siphon, reduced its surface activity under CBN, which affected the surface roughness of the sediment. Bioirrigation, which is strongly influenced by clam behaviour and the activity of the siphon, was markedly reduced by CBN and slightly reduced under IBN.

However, the sound fields had little impact on the brittlestar.

Co-author Dr Chris Hauton, Associate Professor in Invertebrate Ecophysiology and Immune Function, said: "I think these findings raise the prospect that anthropogenic sounds in the marine environment are impacting marine invertebrate species in ways that have not been previously anticipated.

The potential effects of anthropogenic noise on ecosystem function, mediated through changes in organism behaviour merits further study as, in the long term, it may identify impacts to the productivity of seabed systems that have, to date, not really been constrained."

Tim Leighton, Professor of Ultrasonics and Underwater Acoustics and study co-author, added: "There has been much discussion over the last decade of the extent to which whales, dolphins and fish stocks, might be disturbed by the sounds from shipping, windfarms and their construction, seismic exploration etc. However, one set of ocean denizens has until now been ignored, and unlike these other classes, they cannot easily move away from loud man-made sound sources. These are the bottom feeders, such as crabs, shellfish and invertebrates similar to the ones in our study, which are crucial to healthy and commercially successful oceans because they form the bottom of the food chain."


Related Links
University of Southampton
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Sea turtles with tumors fill Florida hospital
Marathon, United States (AFP) Feb 7, 2016
The young patient writhes on the operating table, kicking its flippers. A team of medical attendants turns it over, revealing an underbelly cluttered with tumors, some as big as golf balls. This endangered green sea turtle, about two years old and too young for the staff to know yet whether it is male or female, is infected with fibropapillomatosis, a potentially deadly disease caused by a t ... read more

NATO to debate Turkey call for migrant help

Prosecutors seek developer's detention after Taiwan collapse

Survivors including child pulled alive from Taiwan quake rubble

Indian soldier rescued after six days in Himalayan avalanche

Metal oxide sandwiches: New option to manipulate properties of interfaces

Making sense of metallic glass

A fast solidification process makes material crackle

Researchers discover new phase of boron nitride and a new way to create pure c-BN

Flint mayor demands lead pipes be replaced after scandal

Iraq's largest dam at 'higher risk' of failure: US

Sea turtles with tumors fill Florida hospital

The mystery of the Red Sea

Antarctic ice safety band at risk

Scientists map movement of Greenland Ice during past 9,000 years

Antarctic study identifies melting ice sheet's role in sea level rise

Greenland model could help estimate sea level rise

Oregano may reduce methane in cow burps

Agricultural policies in Africa could be harming the poorest

France's Cahors wine is new frontier for Argentina, China

Climate change's frost harms early plant reproduction

Technology, ancient and modern, can help buildings survive quakes

Volcano in southern Japan erupts in fiery show of nature

Record Missouri flooding was manmade calamity

Rescuers race to save over 100 buried after Taiwan quake

Five killed as jihadists attack UN camp in Mali

Nigeria army probes recent Boko Haram attacks

Sudan names new military chief amid Darfur clashes: ministry

Ugandan opposition general charged at court martial: lawyer

Early human ancestor did not have the jaws of a nutcracker

Wirelessly supplying power to brain

Humans evolved by sharing technology and culture

DNA evidence uncovers major upheaval in Europe near end of last Ice Age

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.