U.S. Army jets are stressing out lizards

Photo credit: Koopasteve licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

It is understood that aircraft noise, including the noise from military jets, affect the health and well-being of individuals exposed to this noise. Now we learn that U.S. Army jet noise brings about stress in lizards as well. In fact, the increase in sound levels brought about by the jets was considerable. Ground readings were about 56 decibels with no overhead jets and then rose to 122 decibels when the jets were flying over. And what was the lizards’ reaction to these loud sounds? Increased eating. Eating is the result of the lizards coping with lost energy brought about by the noise. This finding was different from earlier studies on animals which had shown that noise led to less eating.

Blood samples from the lizards reflected elevated stress levels. At the same time, the researchers found that the flyovers increased the interest in food in these lizards which in turn gave the lizards more energy. While increased eating, according to the researchers, may be the way to cope with the stress at the time, one should consider the impact over time. There may be other consequences.

The researchers conducting the study on aircraft noise impacts on lizards call on the U.S. Army pilots to fly higher to lessen ground level sounds or to avoid the areas where lizards gather during breeding season. How successful will they be with their request? An answer may come to you after you read about the activities of the Sound Defense Alliance whose members have been combating military aircraft noise in Washington State

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