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Shortened Abstract:

Marine invertebrates face a broad suite of anthropogenic stressors, including warming, pollution, acidification, and fishing pressure. Underwater sound is a stressor that continues to increase in coastal areas, but the potential impact on invertebrates is not well understood. In addition to masking natural sound cues which may be important for behavioral interactions, there is a small but increasing body of scientific literature indicating sublethal physiological stress may occur in invertebrates exposed to high levels of underwater sound, particularly low frequency sounds such as vessel traffic, construction noise, and some types of sonar. Our team tested the effects of simulated low-frequency vessel noise and mid-frequency sonar on juvenile and sub-adult blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) and American lobsters (Homarus americanus), looking for changes in behavior and physiology. While some of the physiological indicators returned to normal, behavioral changes were seen in the crabs that could mean they will be at a competitive disadvantage. These results stress the importance of considering the impacts of underwater sound among the suite of stressors facing marine and estuarine invertebrates, and in the discussion of management actions such as protected areas, impact assessments, and marine spatial planning efforts.

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