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The way in which terrestrial organisms use the acoustic realm is fundamentally important and shapes behavior, populations, and communities, but how background acoustics, or noise, influence the patterns and processes in ecology is still relatively understudied. In this review, we summarize how background acoustics have traditionally been studied from the signaling perspective, discuss what is known from a receiver's perspective, and explore what is known about population- and community-level responses to noise. We suggest that there are major gaps linking animal physiology and behavior in noise to fitness; that there is a limited understanding of variation in hearing within and across species, especially in the context of real-world acoustic conditions; and that many puzzling responses to noise could be clarified with a community-level lens that considers indirect effects. Failing to consider variation in acoustic conditions, and the many ways organisms use and interact via this environmental dimension, risks a limited understanding of natural systems.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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