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Urban noise restricts, fragments, and lightens sleep in Australian magpies

journal contribution
posted on 2022-05-19, 06:55 authored by Farley Connelly, Robin JohnssonRobin Johnsson, Anne AulsebrookAnne Aulsebrook, RA Mulder, ML Hall, AL Vyssotski, John LeskuJohn Lesku
Urban areas are inherently noisy, and this noise can disrupt biological processes as diverse as communication, migration, and reproduction. We investigated how exposure to urban noise affects sleep, a process critical to optimal biological functioning, in Australian magpies (Cracticus tibicen). Eight magpies experimentally exposed to noise in captivity for 24-h spent more time awake, and less time in non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) and REM sleep at night than under quiet conditions. Sleep was also fragmented, with more frequent interruptions by wakefulness, shorter sleep episode durations, and less intense non-REM sleep. REM sleep was particularly sensitive to urban noise. Following exposure to noise, magpies recovered lost sleep by engaging in more, and more intense, non-REM sleep. In contrast, REM sleep showed no rebound. This might indicate a long-term cost to REM sleep loss mediated by noise, or contest hypotheses regarding the functional value of this state. Overall, urban noise has extensive, disruptive impacts on sleep composition, architecture, and intensity in magpies. Future work should consider whether noise-induced sleep restriction and fragmentation have long-term consequences.


This project was supported by the Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment and the Ecological Society of Australia. This study was also funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project grant (DP170101003) to J.A.L.


Publication Date



Environmental Pollution



Article Number



11p. (p. 1-11)





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