The U.S. Geological Survey is working with Federal land management agencies to develop a series of science syntheses to support environmental effects analyses that agencies conduct to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This report synthesizes science information about the potential effects of noise from oil and gas development on North American ungulates and small mammals, including rodents and leporids. We conducted a structured search of published scientific literature to find information about noise levels produced during oil and gas development, methods for analyzing sound propagation, the effects of noise on ungulates and small mammals, and measures to reduce noise emissions. We organized the sections of this synthesis to align with standard elements of NEPA analyses. We found that oil and gas development is a common source of human-caused noise on public lands and includes noise sources such as heavy construction and drilling machinery, long-term production machinery, truck traffic, and aircraft. Common techniques for predicting potential noise include field data collection using a sound level meter, inference from previously published data, and sound propagation modeling. A substantial body of research shows that human-caused noise can affect wildlife health and behavior, with variation in sensitivity to noise among species. Studies have shown consistent, detectable effects of noise on ungulates, but the amount of literature on ungulates is very small, and additional research could improve our understanding of differences in effects among species, seasons, and individual indicators of fitness. Several species of small mammals are dependent on audible signals for predator detection and communication, and noise has been shown to affect their vigilance and foraging behavior. However, other studies have documented no effects to rodents in noisy areas, and the effects of noise on small mammals may differ by species and study system. Techniques suggested in the literature for reducing noise emissions include sound barriers, seasonal and daily timing restrictions, traffic control measures, and siting infrastructure to take advantage of natural sound barriers. Public land managers can use this report by incorporating it by reference in NEPA documentation, as supplemental information, or as a general reference for literature about the effects of noise from oil and gas development on ungulates and small mammals.
|Title||Effects of noise from oil and gas development on ungulates and small mammals—A science synthesis to inform National Environmental Policy Act analyses|
|Authors||Tait K. Rutherford, Logan M. Maxwell, Nathan J. Kleist, Elisabeth C. Teige, Richard J. Lehrter, Megan A. Gilbert, David J.A. Wood, Aaron N. Johnston, Claudia Mengelt, John C. Tull, Travis S. Haby, Sarah K. Carter|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Scientific Investigations Report|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Fort Collins Science Center|