Sound exposure changes European seabass behaviour in a large outdoor floating pen: Effects of temporal structure and a ramp-up procedure

Y.Y. Neo, J. Hubert, L.J. Bolle, Hendrik V. Winter, C. ten Cate, H. Slabbekoorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Underwater sound from human activities may affect fish behaviour negatively and threaten the stability of fish stocks. However, some fundamental understanding is still lacking for adequate impact assessments and potential mitigation strategies. For example, little is known about the potential contribution of the temporal features of sound, the efficacy of ramp-up procedures, and the generalisability of results from indoor studies to the outdoors. Using a semi-natural set-up, we exposed European seabass in an
outdoor pen to four treatments: 1) continuous sound, 2) intermittent sound with a regular repetition interval, 3) irregular repetition intervals and 4) a regular repetition interval with amplitude ‘ramp-up’. Upon sound exposure, the fish increased swimming speed and depth, and swam away from the sound source. The behavioural readouts were generally consistent with earlier indoor experiments, but the changes and recovery were more variable and were not significantly influenced by sound intermittency and interval regularity. In addition, the ‘ramp-up’ procedure elicited immediate diving response, similar
to the onset of treatment without a ‘ramp-up’, but the fish did not swim away from the sound source as expected. Our findings suggest that while sound impact studies outdoors increase ecological and behavioural validity, the inherently higher variability also reduces resolution that may be counteracted
by increasing sample size or looking into different individual coping styles. Our results also question the efficacy of ‘ramp-up’ in deterring marine animals, which warrants more investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-34
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Volume214
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Anthropogenic noise
  • Dicentrarchus labrax
  • Fish behaviour
  • Field study
  • Sound characteristics
  • Stress response

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