Human-induced rapid environmental change such as noise pollution alters the ability of animals to integrate information cues. Many studies focus on how noise impacts single sensory channels but in reality animals rely on multimodal sources of information. In this study, we investigated the effect of anthropogenic noise and the visual presence of a predator on tactile information gathering during gastropod shell assessment in the European hermit crab Pagurus bernhardus. The paper measured shell assessment behavior and manipulated 1) the shell size (50% or 80% of the optimal), 2) sound condition (ship or ambient), and 3) visual predator cue (absence/presence). Overall we found that crabs were less likely to accept an optimal shell in the presence of ship noise, suggesting that exposure to ship noise disrupted the information gathering ability of the crabs. Our results indicate that anthropogenic noise can interact with predation threat and resource quality to change resource acquisition, suggesting that noise pollution can disrupt behavior in a nonadditive way, by disrupting information use across multiple sensory channels.
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