The DeuteroNoise project is focused on characterizing noise pollution caused by maritime traffic, both through measurements and simulations, and to test its impact on various species of marine invertebrates. There is a growing concern about the impact that noise from human activities can have on marine life and the health of the oceans. Noise coming from maritime traffic or drilling can affect marine ecosystems, and it is still poorly understood.
In noise research, there has been an almost exclusive focus on vertebrates, and information on invertebrates is very scarce. We do know that in vertebrates, noise affects the mechanoreceptor cells of the ear and can cause hearing problems, even deafness. Homologous cells have been discovered in tunicate marine invertebrates , raising the question of their ability to sense and, therefore, be affected by noise. The DeuteroNoise consortium, made up of seven partners from four European countries (Italy, Norway, Spain and Romania), will work to characterize noise pollution caused by maritime traffic and will measure its impact on various species of invertebrates. The latter are closely related to vertebrates (i.e., deuterostomes) and will be represented by hemichordates, echinoderms, cephalochordates and tunicates.
First, the DeuteroNoise project will measure maritime noise in situ at selected sites in the North Adriatic Sea, the Venetian Lagoon, the North Sea, the Black Sea and the coast of Barcelona in the Mediterranean Sea. Noise pollution will afterwards be modelled and simulated in laboratories, to test their effects on invertebrates' behavior, with special focus on their nervous system and sensory organs, their immune system, embryonic development and resilience. These animals are common in European seas and cover different levels of the food web, from holoplankton-meroplankton to sessile or sedentary primary consumers.
Behavioral, morphological, and genetic studies will be conducted on invertebrate animals living in areas affected by reproduced noise pollution versus unpolluted areas. In the final stage, the animals will be exposed to the gathered noise under controlled conditions in the laboratory, to check the effect on the larval, juvenile and adult stages at an individual and generational level. Comparative studies will:
- allow to highlight the origin of noise pollution – the potential noise sources - in the different basins;
- determine how species react to noise;
- identify morphological features and common genetic pathways that respond as adaptations to noise (the noisesome);
- predict sensitivities in closely related animals that cannot be easily studied in the laboratory or in situ;
- predict noise pollution, supporting future efforts in predicting ecosystem responses to anthropogenic noise and in developing policies to regulate it and infer best practices to achieve Good Environment Status (GES) of European sea basins.
Finally, DeuteroNoise has the aim to disseminate the knowledge in maritime noise pollution and its impact in invertebrates, raise the awareness from authorities, companies, children and teenagers and the society in general, in order to improve the protection of these areas in the future by means of the required policies.
Lucia Manni, University of Padua (Italy)
The National Institute for Research and Development on Marine Geology and Geo-ecology – GeoEcoMar, Romania
Anton Dohrn Zoological Station, Italy
La Salle - Ramon Llull University, Spain
University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy
University of Barcelona, Spain
University of Bergen, Norway