Researchers at California Polytechnic State University Suggest that Noise Negatively Affects Plants

Three researchers from California Polytechnic State University published an article in The Proceeding of the Royal Society B demonstrating both long-term, negative effects on plants from noise and also a lengthy recovery time (over a decade) from noise.

Few have researched the effects of noise on plant life. This project assessed noise pollution from natural gas wells in New Mexico and the effects on pinyon pines. The research suggests a startling 75% decline in pinyon pine seedlings near noisy gas well compressors, and the decline persisted for over a decade after the noisy well abated.

Strikingly, the sound-levels at the noisy sites were between 50dB and 70dB—levels perceived as very loud by humans and apparently also highly-disruptive to plants and animals. The evidence shows that noise is not simply a “nuisance” or ephemeral. Noise negatively affects ecology including human health.

The study shows the complex relationship between plants and animals. The noise apparently chases-away bluejays, which naturally disburse the pine seeds, impairing plant  recovery in the vicinity of the noisy gas wells.

See, e.g., ABC News.