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Simulated drilling noise affects the space use of a large terrestrial mammal
- Drolet, Amélie, Dussault, Christian, Côté, Steeve D.
- Wildlife biology 2016 v.22 no.6 pp. 284-293
- Odocoileus virginianus, anthropogenic activities, collars, deer, drilling, food availability, global positioning systems, habitat destruction, home range, landscapes, mining, natural gas, oil shale, wildlife, Quebec
- Wildlife is exposed to increasing anthropogenic disturbances related to shale oil and gas extraction in response to rising worldwide demands. As these disturbances increase in intensity and occurrence across the landscape, understanding their impacts is essential for management. On Anticosti Island (Québec, Canada), we equipped six white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus with GPS collars taking hourly locations. We then designed a playback experiment by simulating constant drilling noise emitted by generators to which half of the collared deer were exposed for a three-week period. Deer tolerated noise levels up to 70 dB(C). However, the number of locations recorded in areas where the noise was above 70 dB(C) was on average 73% (SE ± 18%) lower than before the disturbance, which suggests that deer experienced fine scale functional habitat loss. This loss of habitat occurred up to 200 m from the noise source. The size of home ranges and movement rates did not appear to be affected by the noise disturbance. In addition, during the experiment, deer were able to relocate in areas of their home range where food availability was similar to that of sites used before the disturbance. These results show that drilling noise can affect the habitat use of white-tailed deer. However, future research is needed to better understand the cumulative impacts of shale mining on large mammals, as this study isolated only one of the many disturbances present near mining sites and for a limited period.