Oil and Gas Drilling Is Causing Birds to Have Fewer Chicks

A new study is the first in any animal to link noise pollution to stress and show that this connection can disrupt reproduction.

However, a boom in oil and gas activity has transformed the soundscape of this region. Now, depending on how close you are to a well pad or a compressor engine, the desert can resemble the din of a busy office. Or worse. (Get involved with National Geographic's Year of the Bird.)

“Some of the loudest sites can be associated with standing on the tarmac at an airport,” says Clinton Francis, an ecologist at California Polytechnic State University. (Listen to what a compressor station sounds like.)

Francis and his colleagues have been studying what effect such noises has on desert wildlife for years, and they say the newest results—published January 8 in the journal PNASare worrisome.

In short, western

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