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Project Description

Among sources of noise, maritime traffic’s relevance to animal well-being is often underestimated, even though its impact remains relatively unknown in various European sea basins. Up to this point, the predominant focus has been on vertebrates, wherein noise primarily affects the mechanoreceptor cells within the ear, potentially leading to hearing impairments or even deafness. Interestingly, analogous cells have been identified in tunicates, which are marine invertebrates closely linked to vertebrates, thereby raising questions about their ability to perceive and be affected by noise. Tunicate mechanoreceptors are adept at detecting sound waves and particle movements, making them susceptible targets of noise pollution.

The DeuteroNoise project’s primary objective is to assess noise pollution stemming from maritime traffic, including the use of simulations, in specific locations across the North Adriatic Sea, Lagoon of Venice, North Sea, Black Sea, and the Barcelona shore. This research will examine its impact on the behavior, nervous system, sensory organs, immune system, and resilience of marine invertebrates closely related to vertebrates, collectively known as deuterostomes. This group comprises hemichordates, echinoderms, cephalochordates, and tunicates. These creatures are commonly found in European waters and span various trophic levels, ranging from holoplankton-meroplankton to sedentary primary consumers.

Noise levels will be both measured on-site and replicated in laboratory settings. A comprehensive survey encompassing behavioral, morphological, and genetic aspects will be carried out on animals residing in polluted and non-polluted areas. Additionally, animals will be exposed to noise under controlled laboratory conditions to ascertain its effects on individuals across various life stages, from larvae to juveniles and adults, extending to multiple generations.

Through comparative studies, the project aims to:

  1. Identify the causes of noise pollution in distinct sea basins.
  2. Determine the species’ responses to such pollution.
  3. Unearth the genetic and morphological indicators associated with noise pollution.
  4. Predict sensitivities in closely related animals that are challenging to study either in the laboratory or on-site.
  5. Forecast potential noise pollution trends and develop the best practices to achieve the Good Environmental Status of European sea basins.