[MARMAM] ABSTRACT: Conflict of interest in research on anthropogenic noise and marine mammals

hwhitehe at dal.ca hwhitehe at dal.ca
Fri Nov 6 05:39:13 PST 2009

The following paper may be of interest.

A .pdf of this paper is available at:


Hal Whitehead

Wade, L., H. Whitehead and L. Weilgart.  2010.  Conflict of interest in 
research on anthropogenic noise and marine mammals: does funding bias 
conclusions? Marine Policy 34: 320-327.


The U.S. Navy, whose sonars kill marine mammals, provides approximately 
50% of the funds for marine mammal research worldwide. We examined six 
reviews of research on the effects of anthropogenic sound on marine 
mammals, as well as the primary papers cited in the reviews. These reviews 
cite references showing noise has no effect on marine mammals at an 
increasing frequency as their funding moves from a conservation 
organization to independent to partial U.S. military sources. Primary papers 
are 2.3 times more likely to be cited in the reviews as concluding no effect of 
noise if the research was militarily-funded than if not. Thus, conflict of 
interest may have led to a misrepresentation of the effects of noise on 
marine mammals in both the primary and secondary literature, and thus 
misinform public policy decisions.

HAL WHITEHEAD, Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, 
NS B3H 4J1, Canada

More information about the MARMAM mailing list