Noise and Trees

(A pinyon pine seedling.)

It is not that noise directly affects trees, though I would not be surprised if that were the case. This article is about a study of pinyon trees in New Mexico. A good number of these wells have compressors running 24/7. They are very loud:

“Dominated by woodland plants, the area in the US south-west contains a high density of natural gas wells, some of which are coupled with compressors that run continuously and generate chronic noise at up to 100 decibels. That is as loud “as being next to the speakers at a Black Sabbath concert or standing right next to the train tracks as the train goes by”, said Dr Jenny Phillips, who was lead author of the study while at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.”

It seems that the noise from the many natural gas wells has scared off scrub jays, which are essential in the ecosystem for distributing the seeds of pinyon pines. As the article notes, these jays are smart and have episodic memories, which means that they remember what places scared them and they don’t return. Hence these seeds are not being distributed.

Here is the link to the article.

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