The effects of anthropogenic noise on frogs housed on exhibit at a public aquarium

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Colette Angel, Michael Romano, Charles R. Knapp
Zoo Biology
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Anuran behavior and reproduction are dominated by vocalizations, rendering them vulnerable to the effects of signal masking. For anurans on display in zoos and aquaria, a major source of ambient noise is visitors, which pose a unique source of potential anthropogenic signal masking. Call characteristics (total call duration, and minimum and maximum call frequencies) of three populations of dendrobatids (Dendrobates leucomelas, Epipedobates tricolor, and Ranitomeya imitator) on public display were investigated at time periods of increasing visitor-related noise (closed, off-peak, and peak aquarium visiting hours) to determine if there were changes in call characteristics that correlated with changes in visitor noise levels. The data revealed that call length increased with more visitor noise for D. leucomelas and E. tricolor, with their longest calls during peak hours, and all three species had their shortest calls during closed hours. Both minimum and maximum call frequencies increased with more visitor noise for E. tricolor and R. imitator, with their highest frequencies during peak hours, and lowest frequencies during closed hours. This study found evidence that anurans on public display adjust their vocalizations in the presence of visitor noise. These findings support expanded monitoring of ambient noise for animals on public display to determine if noise poses significant effects that might influence well-being or reproduction.


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