Peer Reviewed Publication
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Anthropogenic underwater noise may negatively affect marine animals. Yet, while fishes are highly sensitive to sounds, effects of acoustic disturbances on fishes have not been extensively studied at the population level. In this study, we use a size-structured model based on energy budgets to analyse potential population-level effects of anthropogenic noise on Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). Using the model framework, we assess the impact of four possible effect pathways of disturbance on the cod population growth rate. Through increased stress, changes in foraging and movement behaviour, and effects on the auditory system, anthropogenic noise can lead to (i) increased energy expenditure, (ii) reduced food intake, (iii) increased mortality, and (iv) reduced reproductive output. Our results show that population growth rates are particularly sensitive to changes in energy expenditure and food intake because they indirectly affect the age of maturation, survival and fecundity. Sub-lethal effects of sound exposure may thus affect populations of cod and fishes with similar life histories more than lethal effects of sound exposure. Moreover, anthropogenic noise may negatively affect populations when causing persistent increases of energy expenditure or decreases of food intake. Effects of specific acoustic pollutants on energy acquisition and expenditure should therefore be further investigated.
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