Jittery Lizards and the Impact of Noise Pollution on Urban Wildlife


Living in a noisy neighborhood might make you uneasy, especially if you’re a little lizard that’s just a few inches long.vIt is understandable why low-flying fighter jet noise pollution has caused lizards to turn to stress eating.

Asexual reproduction is used by the all-female species known as Colorado checkered whiptails (Aspidoscelis neotesselatus), a striped and patterned lizard that exclusively inhabits southeastern Colorado. Additionally, the US Army’s flyovers cause them to suffer a lot of noise.

Researchers subsequently found higher stress levels in the blood samples taken from these lizards. Additionally, the lizards employed a coping mechanism: they ate more and moved less. 

According to research published in the journal Frontiers in Amphibian and Reptile Science on Wednesday, the lizards’ nibbling during loud flyovers likely serves to restore energy depleted by their physiological reactions to stress.

Megen Kepas, a doctorate candidate at Utah State University, is one of the study’s co-lead authors. “We demonstrate that noise disruption does affect Colorado checkered whiptails physiologically,”  she stated in a statement.

By altering how much they eat and move when planes are around, “we also show that they are somewhat resilient and may compensate for this to some degree.” According to Verne M. Willaman Dean and biology professor Tracy Langkilde of Pennsylvania State University’s Eberly College of Science, “I found the study to be super interesting.” 

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Exploring Noise Effects

According to Langkilde, who was not involved in the study, “there’s been growing interest in the effects of noise on native animals,” although the majority of the research in this field focuses on birds.

When there is a lot of traffic noise close to the ponds where they nest, Langkilde’s research looks at how the wood frogs react to stress. She added that our Knowledge of how noise impacts our native species in critical ways is growing as a result of learning more about lizards, she added.

Military planes are a common sight in the sky over the grassland areas that the checkered whiptails call home. 

The distribution of the lizard extends into the 212 square mile (550 square km) Fort Carson Military Base near Colorado Springs, which is home to many populations of the lizard. The majority of the research funding came from Fort Carson.

According to the report, Black Hawk, Apache, and Chinook helicopters fly above, often at a height of less than 20,000 feet (6,100 meters), along with fighter planes and cargo aircraft.

When there were no flyovers, ground readings didn’t get over 56 decibels (dB), which is roughly how loud a refrigerator’s hum is. In contrast, during flyovers, ground measurements spiked to 112 dB, which is louder than a jackhammer and barely beyond the average pain threshold for people.

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Source: CNN

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