Effects of Noise

From a babbling brook to a thundering waterfall or yips of a coyote pack, the natural sounds in a park create immersive experiences important for visitors, wildlife, ecosystems, and communities. Noise intrudes upon these connections. Follow the links below to learn about the importance of natural sound environments, and the impacts of noise to wildlife, wilderness, visitors, and cultural-historic resources.
A great gray owl sits perched on a tree branch surveying its surroundings.
A great gray owl surveys its surroundings from a tree.

© Joe Medley


Activities such as finding desirable habitat and mates, avoiding predators, protecting young, and establishing territories are all dependent on the acoustical environment.

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A vivid blue sky frames this sweeping view of undulating, green mountains and valleys.
A vivid, blue sky frames this sweeping view of undulating, green mountains and valleys.



When noise covers up natural sounds, the entire, natural ecosystem shows the effects. Places of deep quiet are most vulnerable.

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Rear view of hikers climbing the Halemau'u trail in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.
Hikers climb the Halemau'u trail, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.



The American public comes to parks with natural quiet in mind — for opportunities to experience natural peace and the sounds of nature. The NPS works to provide this experience for park visitors.

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Costumed actors as Civil War soldiers fire the cannon during a battle reenactment
Actors as Civil War soldiers fire the cannon during a battle reenactment


Cultural-Historic Resources

The specific sounds associated with our history or cultural heritage not only teach us about the past, they connect us to distant times and places in a way that few other things can.

Learn more.


  • Barber, J., Fristrup, K., Brown, C., Hardy, A., Angeloni, L., & Crooks, K. (2009). Conserving the wild life therein: Protecting park fauna from anthropogenic noise. Park Science, 23(3), 26-31.
  • Bell, P., Mace, B., & Benfield, J. (2009). Aircraft overflights at national parks: Conflict and its potential resolution. Park Science, 26(3), 65-67.
  • Fuller, R., Warren, P., Gaston, K. (2007). Daytime noise predicts nocturnal singing in urban robins.Biology Letters, 3, 368-370.
  • Haas, G., & Wakefield, T. (1998). National parks and the American public: a national public opinion survey on the national park system. National Parks and Conservation Association and Colorado State University, Washington, D.C. and Fort Collins, CO.
  • Mennitt, D., Fristrup, K., & Nelson, L. (2015) A spatially explicit estimate of environmental noise exposure in the contiguous United States. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 137(4), 2339-2340.
  • Monroe, M., Newman, P., Pilcher, E., Manning, R., & Stack, D. (2007). Now Hear This. Legacy Magazine, 18(1), 19-25.
  • Parris,K., Velik-lord, M., & North, J. (2009). Frogs call at a higher pitch in traffic noise. Ecology and Society, 14(1), 25. Retrieved from http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol14/iss1/art25
  • Shannon, G., McKenna, M., Angeloni, L., Crooks, K., Fristrup, K., Brown, E., Warner, K., Nelson, M., White, C., Briggs, J., McFarland, S., & Wittemyer, G. (2015). A synthesis of two decades of research documenting the effects of noise on wildlife. Biological Reviews.Article first published online: 26 JUN 2015 DOI: 10.1111/brv.12207
  • Ware, H., McClure, C., Carlisle, J., & Barber, J. (2015). A phantom road experiment reveals traffic noise is an invisible source of habitat degradation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,112(39), 12105-12109.