Noise annoys: Effects of noise on breeding great tits depend on personality but not on noise characteristics

Anthropogenic noise can have serious implications for animals, especially when they communicate acoustically. Yet, the impacts of noise may depend not only on noise characteristics but also on an individual's coping style or personality. We tested whether noise is more disturbing if it masks communication signals, and whether characteristics of both the noise and the individual affect its impact. Using a unique population of personality-typed great tits, Parus major, we tested whether the kind of noise and parental personality affect parental nestbox visits and nestling begging. Nestboxes were exposed to automated noise playbacks, differing in spectral composition (noise masking begging calls, nonmasking noise or no noise). Parental nestbox visits were recorded using RFID transponders. Video and audio recordings were used to quantify nestling begging. Nestlings mainly begged in silence and in the presence of parents. Parents reduced nestbox visits during noise treatments regardless of the kind of noise and initially reacted more strongly to nonmasking noise. Moreover, slower explorers took longer to enter the nestbox during noise than faster explorers. Total visit rates during noise depended on parental sex and personality. In females, bolder individuals, but in males shyer individuals, reduced total visits during noise. These results extend previous findings in showing experimentally that the disturbance effects of noise do not depend on whether or not the noise directly interferes with information exchange by masking signals. Moreover, personality- and sex-specific responses to noise indicate that anthropogenic disturbance can differentially affect individuals within populations, which will influence mitigation strategies.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Naguib, M., van Oers, K., Braakhuis, A., Griffioen, M., de Goede, P., & Waas, J. R. (2013). Noise annoys: effects of noise on breeding great tits depend on personality but not on noise characteristics. Animal Behaviour, 85(5), 949-956.
Elsevier Masson