The effect of airplane noise on frogs: a case study on the Critically Endangered Pickersgill's reed frog (Hyperolius pickersgilli)
Kruger, Donnavan J.D.
Du Preez, Louis H.
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Species communicating acoustically may develop behavioral responses that aid them to transmit information and overcome signal masking in habitats disturbed by anthropogenic noise. Although many studies have concentrated on road traffic noise, very few studies mentioned effects of low flying airplane flyby noise on the vocal behavior of frogs. We studied the Critically Endangered Pickersgill’s Reed frog (Hyperolius pickersgilli) native to the eastern coastal regions of South Africa as a case study. In order to evaluate the call of H. pickersgilli, we compared a site with high levels of airplane flyby noise to a reference site without any airplane activity. Our results show that H. pickersgilli males made changes in both temporal and spectral properties of their call. Males call significantly more during and after an airplane flyby in relation to the call rate before the noise stimulus, but resumed normal call rhythms when measurements were taken 15 min after overflight. We found that males call at higher mean dominant frequencies (df difference = 161.4 Hz, P < 0.05) when exposed to high-intensity airplane flyby noise. In comparison with call rate 5 min before the airplane flyby, males called 12 % more during and 18 % more after the airplane flyby. Although changes in the spectral and temporal properties of the call of H. pickersgilli were observed, this species was actively calling for much longer than any other local species. This is the first study from Africa to report effects of anthropogenic noise on anuran communication