Frogs adapt to physiologically costly anthropogenic noise

Jennifer B. Tennessen, Susan E. Parks, Lindsey Swierk, Laura K. Reinert, Whitney M. Holden, Louise A. Rollins-Smith, Koranda A. Walsh, Tracy Langkilde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Human activities impose novel pressures on amphibians, which are experiencing unprecedented global declines, yet population-level responses are poorly understood. A growing body of literature has revealed that noise is an anthropogenic stressor that impacts ecological processes spanning subcellular to ecosystem levels. These consequences can impose novel selective pressures on populations, yet whether populations can adapt to noise is unknown. We tested for adaptation to traffic noise, a widespread sensory ‘pollutant’. We collected eggs of wood frogs (Rana sylvatica) from populations from different traffic noise regimes, reared hatchlings under the same conditions, and tested frogs for differences in sublethal fitness-relevant effects of noise. We show that prolonged noise impaired production of antimicrobial peptides associated with defence against disease. Additionally, noise and origin site interacted to impact immune and stress responses. Noise exposure altered leucocyte production and increased baseline levels of the stress-relevant glucocorticoid, corticosterone, in frogs from quiet sites, but noise-legacy populations were unaffected. These results suggest noise-legacy populations have adapted to avoid fitness-relevant physiological costs of traffic noise. These findings advance our understanding of the consequences of novel soundscapes and reveal a pathway by which anthropogenic disturbance can enable adaptation to novel environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20182194
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1891
StatePublished - Nov 21 2018


  • Anthropogenic noise
  • Antimicrobial peptide
  • Glucocorticoid
  • Leucocyte
  • Stress response
  • Wood frog

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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