Kathryn Chenard

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date



It is undeniable that the progress of human civilization has altered the natural landscape of the world in ways that range from the merely aesthetic to the irreparably destructive. Some impacts are patently obvious. Others may not be as obvious to the casual observer, and yet they can be just as important in terms of truly understanding not only our impact on the world around us, but how we can mitigate this impact.

One of the most far-reaching of these latter impacts is the increased and altered levels of background noise upon the natural acoustic landscape. These changes have the potential to hinder species such as songbirds that rely on acoustic signals as a vital part of many social processes. These impediments have been shown to increase stress levels and levels of predation, erode pair bonds, and decrease the likelihood of survival of populations in the novel acoustic environments we have created. Therefore further study of the effects of noise disturbance on songbird populations and breeding efforts may allow us to create informed conservation strategies to help mitigate these effects. While the effects of masking noise on various species of birds have been studied before, this is the first study designed to understand what effect the predictability of such noise disturbances may have on zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) behavior. The results pointed towards the predictability of the disturbance not having a significant effect on initiation or time spent vocalizing after the end of a disturbance block.