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Limiting motorboat noise on coral reefs boosts fish reproductive success

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  • Sophie L. Nedelec
  • Andrew N. Radford
  • Peter Gatenby
  • Isla Keesje Davidson
  • Laura Velasquez Jimenez
  • Maggie Travis
  • Katherine E. Chapman
  • Kieran P. McCloskey
  • Timothy A. C. Lamont
  • Björn Illing
  • Mark I. McCormick
  • Stephen D. Simpson
Article number2822
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>20/05/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Nature Communications
Issue number1
Number of pages9
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Anthropogenic noise impacts are pervasive across taxa, ecosystems and the world. Here, we experimentally test the hypothesis that protecting vulnerable habitats from noise pollution can improve animal reproductive success. Using a season-long field manipulation with an established model system on the Great Barrier Reef, we demonstrate that limiting motorboat activity on reefs leads to the survival of more fish offspring compared to reefs experiencing busy motorboat traffic. A complementary laboratory experiment isolated the importance of noise and, in combination with the field study, showed that the enhanced reproductive success on protected reefs is likely due to improvements in parental care and offspring length. Our results suggest noise mitigation could have benefits that carry through to the population-level by increasing adult reproductive output and offspring growth, thus helping to protect coral reefs from human impacts and presenting a valuable opportunity for enhancing ecosystem resilience.