A Systematic Review of Research Investigating the Combined Ecological Impact of Anthropogenic Noise and Artificial Light at Night

Wouter Halfwerk, Paul Jerem*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Levels of anthropogenic noise and artificial light at night (ALAN) are rapidly rising on a global scale. Both sensory pollutants are well known to affect animal behavior and physiology, which can lead to substantial ecological impacts. Most studies on noise or light pollution to date have focused on single stressor impacts, studying both pollutants in isolation despite their high spatial and temporal co-occurrence. However, few studies have addressed their combined impact, known as multisensory pollution, with the specific aim to assess whether the interaction between noise and light pollution leads to predictable, additive effects, or less predictable, synergistic or antagonistic effects. We carried out a systematic review of research investigating multisensory pollution and found 28 studies that simultaneously assessed the impact of anthropogenic noise and ALAN on animal function (e.g., behavior, morphology or life-history), physiology (e.g., stress, oxidative, or immune status), or population demography (e.g., abundance or species richness). Only fifteen of these studies specifically tested for possible interactive effects when both sensory pollutants were combined. Four out of eight experimental studies revealed a significant interaction effect, in contrast to only three out seven observational studies. We discuss the benefits and limitations of experimental vs. observational studies addressing multisensory pollution and call for more specific testing of the diverse ways in which noise and light pollution can interact to affect wildlife.

Original languageEnglish
Article number765950
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Issue numberNovember
Early online date30 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the ERC-Starting Grant— CITISENSE (802460).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021 Halfwerk and Jerem.


  • antagonism
  • anthropogenic noise
  • artificial light at night (ALAN)
  • emergent properties
  • multisensory pollution
  • synergism


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