Effects of noise on fishes: What we can learn from humans and birds

Robert J. Dooling, Marjorie R. Leek, Arthur N. Popper

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


In this paper we describe the masking of pure tones in humans and birds by manmade noises and show that similar ideas can be applied when considering the potential effects of noise on fishes, as well as other aquatic vertebrates. Results from many studies on humans and birds, both in the field and in the laboratory, show that published critical ratios can be used to predict the masked thresholds for pure tones when maskers consist of complex manmade and natural noises. We argue from these data that a single, simple measure, the species critical ratio, can be used to estimate the effect of manmade environmental noises on the perception of communication and other biologically relevant sounds. We also reason that if this principle holds for species as diverse as humans and birds, it probably also applies for all other vertebrates, including fishes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-37
Number of pages9
JournalIntegrative Zoology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavior
  • Communication
  • Manmade noise
  • Masking
  • Sound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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