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How to minimize the impacts of sensory pollution on animals


Animals face different sources of pollution: chemical, light, sound, etc. Because different animals perceive their worlds very differently (i.e., bats rely on echolocation, moles rely on tactile cues, etc.), these pollution sources can impair the ability of certain species to detect food sources, potential mates, etc. This sensory pollution can negatively impact behavior, and ultimately survival.

A recent paper published in Nature Ecology & Evolution proposed a novel theoretical framework to identify the mechanisms behind sensory pollution (masking, distracting, misleading). Establishing the sensory pollution mechanism affecting a given species is key to develop mitigation strategies as each mechanism requires a different solution. This paper is the result of an international collaboration of experts in sensory ecology, including Prof. Esteban Fernandez-Juricic.

The authors also proposed the idea of "sensory danger zones", which are hotspots where sensory pollutants overlap with areas of high animal activity. Focusing future conservation efforts on these sensory danger zones can reduce biodiversity loss and anthropogenic impacts globally.

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