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article imageAcoustic monitoring of tropical forests to assess biodiversity

By Tim Sandle     Jan 4, 2019 in Environment
An acoustic device has been developed to enable researchers to study variations within tropical forests. The aim is to gather data to gain new insights into biodiversity.
A research study demonstrates how the use of simple acoustic monitoring devices positioned in tropical forests provides new insights into rain forest biodiversity. This falls part of the emerging field of bioacoustics, which is beginning to be used to monitoring animal biodiversity in areas like tropical forests under various conservation schemes. Bioacoutstics concerns investigation of sound production, dispersion and reception in animals.
The research, performed so far in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, demonstrates how it is possible to develop an acoustic network to create a soundscape. Such soundscapes provide a baseline for future assessments of biodiversity, and can assess the human impact upon the climate. This adds to established ways of surveying the forest environment (like trekking) and more recent advances like using satellites or methods such as canopy-penetrating LIDAR.
In terms of application, lead scientist Eddie Game stated: "Some species, like gibbons or hornbills, are comfortably heard 500 meters away and sometimes more, but typically bioacoustic monitors are sampling the soundscape in the immediate couple of hundred meters...pretty much the range of human hearing and certainly capture birds, amphibians, many mammals and many (maybe most) insects.”
The roll out of the technology will be possible, based on the model, to other researchers to run similar studies based on a drop in the costs of the required listening devices plus data storage systems.
The research has been published in the journal Science. The research paper is simply titled "The sound of a tropical forest."
More about Tropics, Forests, Rainforest, Biodiversity
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