Effects of anthropogenic noise on the behaviour, physiological traits and welfare of two animal models: wild mice (Mus musculus) and Eastern blue tongued lizard (Tiliqua scincoides)

Mancera Alarcon, Karen Fabiola (2016). Effects of anthropogenic noise on the behaviour, physiological traits and welfare of two animal models: wild mice (Mus musculus) and Eastern blue tongued lizard (Tiliqua scincoides) PhD Thesis, School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland. doi:10.14264/uql.2016.188

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Author Mancera Alarcon, Karen Fabiola
Thesis Title Effects of anthropogenic noise on the behaviour, physiological traits and welfare of two animal models: wild mice (Mus musculus) and Eastern blue tongued lizard (Tiliqua scincoides)
Formatted title
Effects of anthropogenic noise on the behaviour, physiological traits and welfare of two animal models: wild mice (Mus musculus) and Eastern blue tongued lizard (Tiliqua scincoides)
School, Centre or Institute School of Veterinary Science
Institution The University of Queensland
DOI 10.14264/uql.2016.188
Publication date 2016-04-09
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Clive Phillips
Peter Murray
Total pages 256
Language eng
Subjects 0606 Physiology
0707 Veterinary Sciences
Formatted abstract
Noise is an important source of stress that is able to impact negatively on animals’ welfare. Anthropogenic activities are a major contributor to noise, and their cumulative effects on individuals could have consequences for wildlife populations. Although transportation noise impacts have been evaluated for vocal and charismatic animals, research regarding the effects of other types of anthropogenic noise on non-charismatic animals has not been undertaken. This research explored the effects of mining noise, which is prevalent in the Australian soundscape, on wild mice (Mus musculus) and Eastern blue tongued lizards (Tiliqua scincoides). The first experimental stage focused on developing a reliable methodology to assess behavioural responses in the blue tongued lizard, and suitable noise exposure and acoustic processing techniques for subsequent experimentation. This was achieved through the analysis of the effects of typical transport stressors on lizards’ behaviour. Lizards were exposed to Heat (35oC), Cold (15oC), high or low frequency noise or a Control treatment with no stimulus in a test chamber for a 5 s. The test chamber was connected to an escape chamber, accessible after exposure to the stimulus, and a small hiding chamber opposite the test chamber. Lizard behaviour was monitored during stimulus exposure and then for a further 15 minutes, after which each lizard was removed. Lizards exposed to Cold spent less time in the test chamber and more time inactive in the escape chamber. They also spent longer walking towards the hiding chamber both away from the wall and by the wall and walking in the hiding chamber away from the stimulus. Thus, cold temperatures were noxious for lizards in a simulated transport environment as they reduced activity and increased escape attempts. In a second experiment, noise exposure was studied in more detail and the behaviour of blue tongued lizards when exposed to five combinations of mining machinery noise was evaluated. Lizards were exposed to low and high frequencies (≤ or > 2 kHz) at both low (60-65 dB (A)) and high (70-75 dB (A)) amplitudes, and a Control treatment, following the same exposure technique developed in the first experiment. In the test chamber lizards exposed to any mining machinery noise, but especially high frequencies, spent more time freezing, a typical stress response in reptiles, when compared with animals in the Control treatment. In the hiding chamber, high frequencies at high amplitudes decreased durations of the head being held to the right face downwards, suggesting a lateralized fear reaction. High frequency, high amplitude noise was the most detrimental. Mining noise had negative effects on the lizards’ behavior and welfare. To estimate mining machinery noise effects on the second animal model, wild mice, amplitudes and frequencies were tested separately to differentiate between these two important components of noise. Using the high and low amplitudes previously established, wild mice were exposed to 3 weeks of continuous noise. Effects of noise on their behaviour, organ morphology and fecal corticosterone levels were compared with a control treatment (no extra auditory stimuli, below 55 dB (A)). This was probably due to gender-based differences in stress activation. Circling behaviour in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions was increased in animals exposed to high amplitude noise. In mice exposed to low amplitude noise, fecal corticosterone was increased but total circling remained the same as control. These results suggest that dopamine-related stereotypies during high amplitude mining noise were a coping mechanism that prevented excessive physiological arousal. Both noise treatments increased circling to the left, which corresponds to right hemispheric activation of the stress response; however only the high amplitude noise increased circling to the right (left hemisphere activation), which may inhibit stress arousal by right hemisphere. When organ morphology was evaluated, females, housed in pairs, had responses that differed from those of males, which had to be housed individually. Females exposed to high amplitude noise had a smaller adrenal cortex and cortex/medullary ratio compared to controls. This adrenal atrophy and decreased fecal corticosterone in the high amplitude treatment indicates a state of chronic stress during noise exposure that had accentuated effects for females. Females in both the high and low noise treatments had smaller kidneys than males in these treatments, suggesting an epinephrine-mediated vasoconstriction. A similar effect was seen in the males’ spleens exposed to both noise treatments, expected as physiological stress can generate spleen atrophy. Females, housed in pairs, had behaviour responses that differed from those of males, which had to be housed individually. In relation to amplitude therefore, mining machinery noise produced stress response on wild mice that were amplitude dependent and appeared to require the generation of coping mechanism. As high amplitudes were the most noxious for wild mice, we used this energy intensity to evaluate the effects of mining machinery noise at two frequency ranges: high (HF > 2 kHz) and low (LF ≤ 2 kHz) on the behaviour, organ morphology and fecal corticosterone of wild mice, compared with a control treatment (no extra auditory stimuli) using the exposure methodology described for amplitude exposure. High frequency mining noise increased fecal corticosterone and decreased partial hiding and nest activity. Females were the most affected, since they had the highest fecal corticosterone levels and a tendency for spleen atrophy, probably due to a specific high frequency sensitivity. Stereotyped circling anticlockwise, but not clockwise, was increased in female mice exposed to high frequencies compared to low frequencies. Low frequency mining noise increased fecal corticosterone levels in males but not females. Thus, mining machinery noise produces stress responses in wild mice that are also frequency dependent. From both sets of experiments, it is evident that mining noise has adverse effects on the two species, both of which are found in the vicinity of mining sites. These effects are clearly frequency and amplitude dependent, which should encourage environmental policy makers to effectively regulate noise levels in mining areas.
Keyword Animal welfare
Anthropogenic noise
Stereotypy
Coping
Wildlife
Mining
Stress
Lateralization
Blue tongued lizard
Wild mice

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Created: Tue, 29 Mar 2016, 08:36:26 EST by Karen Mancera Alarcon on behalf of Learning and Research Services (UQ Library)