Driving Stress

As distant rumblings pierce pastoral air,

Each roaming frog recoils without a bound;

Mechanical vibrations beat the ground,

And conjure up strange feelings of despair.

 

These noises that have caught them unaware,

Combine to disconcert and to confound;

As distant rumblings pierce pastoral air,

Each roaming frog recoils without a bound.

 

But stress strips back defences to threadbare,

So malady begins to gather round

With every generation of this sound;

Adaption forced upon them without care,

As distant rumblings pierce pastoral air.

‘Mechanical vibrations beat the ground’.

This is a Rondel, inspired by recent research which has found that traffic noise can cause stress to nearby frogs, impairing their defence mechanisms, and causing them to adapt to reduce these negative effects.

Noise can have a number of negative consequences on wildlife; for example, by interfering with communication, reducing the ability to find food, and hindering their ability to avoid predators. In the case of wood frogs (who must travel to mate and lay their eggs near ponds, many of which are now located near noisy roads), this noise has been found to cause an impairment in their ability to produce antimicrobial peptides, an important defence mechanism against pathogens. In other words, the noise from traffic can make these frogs more susceptible to disease.

As well as discovering this link between road noise and immune systems, this new research also found that frogs that were used to living in noisy ponds had adapted to the environment and were less impaired in their production of antimicrobial peptides than frogs who had been moved from quiet to noisy locations. This process of adaptation and evolution likely took place over the very rapid timescale of 15-35 generations of frogs, although further research is needed to pinpoint the exact mechanism of how frogs are adapting to noise.

 

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