Traffic noise causes physiological stress and impairs breeding migration behaviour in frogs

Jennifer B. Tennessen, Susan E. Parks, Tracy Langkilde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Human-generated noise has profoundly changed natural soundscapes in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, imposing novel pressures on ecological processes. Despite interest in identifying the ecological consequences of these altered soundscapes, little is known about the sublethal impacts on wildlife population health and individual fitness. We present evidence that noise induces a physiological stress response in an amphibian and impairs mate attraction in the natural environment. Traffic noise increased levels of a stress-relevant glucocorticoid hormone (corticosterone) in female wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) and impaired female travel towards a male breeding chorus in the field, providing insight into the sublethal consequences of acoustic habitat loss. Given that prolonged elevated levels of corticosterone can have deleterious consequences on survival and reproduction and that impaired mate attraction can impact population persistence, our results suggest a novel pathway by which human activities may be imposing population-level impacts on globally declining amphibians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalConservation Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


  • Corticosterone
  • Frog
  • Mate attraction
  • Noise
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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