Noise Pollution Makes It Harder For Plants to Have Sex


Written by Stephen Messenger

Aside from a gentle rustling in the breeze or the occasional creaking bough, trees are generally nature’s strong and silent types — and as it turns out, they’d probably prefer us to keep the noise to a minimum too. According to some rather surprising results of a new study on the effects of excessive industrial ruckus on flora, even plants are apparently feeling the squeeze from human-generated noise pollution.

Researchers from North Carolina’s National Evolutionary Synthesis Center recently discovered that, despite an absence of ears, plant life cycles are being negatively impacted by persistent loud noises in their neighborhoods, reports the BBC. The team set their sights (and sounds) on a patch of New Mexico forest home to a number of clamorous gas wells and soon learned that the noise pollution made it harder for trees to have sex — because it deterred their reproductive assistants: pollinators.

Hummingbirds in particular, it seems, generally prefer to take their meals away from the hum of industrial machinery. But while it’s hard to blame them for that, it does make it difficult for trees to get together, so to speak.

And the trouble for plants in noisy regions doesn’t end there. Researchers also found that many animals which usually consume and later deposite seeds elsewhere weren’t coming around quite as much to help disperse the tree’s offspring. That’s a serious problem says lead-researcher Clinton Francis:

“Fewer seedlings in noisy areas might eventually mean fewer mature trees, but because pinon pines are so slow-growing the shift could have gone undetected for years. Fewer pinon pine trees would mean less critical habitat for the hundreds of species that depend on them for survival.”

Unfortunately, given the endless expansion of human activity in formerly tranquil ecosystems, silence is likely to be harder to come by in the future for nearly everyone and everything — and it may be a more difficult problem to curb.

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.


Related Stories:

Nightclub-Loud Noise Threatens Marine Mammals

Tree Death Rates Double in Old-Growth Forests

5 Things Plants Do Better Than Us


Photo from fatniu via flickr


glenda b.
glenda b5 years ago

Boy mankind sure has mess things up...Haven't they?....

nicola w.
Jane H5 years ago

Noise has a bad effect on many creatures - raises stress Australia mining and naval sonar have been implicated in whale strandings ...

J.L. A.
JL A5 years ago

All the more reason to keep drilling out of wildlife refuges.

Nancy W.
Nancy W5 years ago

Silence is a gift humans could learn a thing or two about giving instead of taking and not just a little, we take and take and Take waaay toooo Much! We take even the silence which brings the abundance of life. Silence is golden is not a myth, could be essential for creating life, the life of and the beauty of plants. Where's the balance to allow this to happen?

Marlene Dinkins

i love plants and trees !!!!!!!!! i believe they suffer and miss their loveones when people cuut them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! but i never thougt thay have sex!!!!!!!!! iam suprise !!!!!!!!!!!!! thnx

Kate Kenner
Kate Kenner5 years ago

I know all the noise makes me crazy. This is yet another way that people are destroying nature and without even trying.
I agree totally Ron. We could certainly use something to lower our population. Remember the saying "less, bus, more trees"? I say less people, more trees.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

* a certain cartoon, sorry for the misprint

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

This reminds me of a certain cartoons. Two flowers are talking: 'I desire you'. 'I desire you too. When will those bloody bees come at last?'

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

Sending a Green Star is a simple way to say "Thank you"

You cannot currently send a star to colleen because you have done so within the last week.

colleen p.
colleen p5 years ago

Yes Jane B. Reproduction is called "sex". Plants reproduce.

and who wants to watch plants pump out pollen?

every time someone sneezes during the season, it is tree sex that is agrivating them.

I saw someone call it "rampant tree sex" once.