Bats eat more and gain weight in urban noise

With the development of human society and economy, more and more wild animals live in the environment polluted by man-made noise. However, it is still largely unclear how environmental noise affects wildlife feeding behavior and health. As the second largest mammalian group, bats play an important role in night-time insect control, seed propagation, pollination and nutrient distribution. Many bat species live or forage in noisy environments such as bridges and buildings.

Recently, a team of Professor Feng Jiang of Northeast Normal University published an article in the Journal of Applied Ecology, an authoritative journal of international ecology, entitled “Long-term traffic noise increases the food intake of bats and alters gene expression associated with metabolism and disease”, finding that bats increase food intake in traffic noise environments, and that traffic noise may also increase the risk of diseases such as metabolic disorders and immune disorders.

Bats eat more and gain weight in urban noise

The researchers found that bats in the noisy environment increased food intake and weight, and the concentration of thyroid hormones in feces increased compared to bats in the test group. In addition, bats in a noisy environment alter the body’s expression of genes associated with metabolism, stress response, and immune response, which affect metabolic and disease-related pathways.

Experimental results show that noise as a pressure source, will promote the energy consumption of bats, food intake increase may be the pressure response to noise, to compensate for the energy consumption caused by noise. However, noise may still affect the health of bats, such as prolonged metabolic changes that may increase the risk of metabolic syndrome ( such as diabetes and obesity ) . Differences in immune response and disease-related gene expression may affect the immune function of bats, reduce immunity, and increase the incidence of disease.

The study suggests that bats and other wild animals that live in traffic noise may need to consume more energy or have a stronger motivation to hunt. In addition, prolonged exposure to traffic noise may increase the risk of metabolic disorders, immune disorders, and other diseases in individuals.

The study is also instructive to humans that it is necessary to eat more in a noisy environment to help compensate for the energy consumption caused by noise stress. Despite this, environmental noise can have a negative impact on health. The most effective approach may also be to take the necessary management measures to reduce noise disturbances.