Conservation news

Audio: How soundscapes are helping us better understand animal behavior and landscape ecology

On today’s episode, we take a look at soundscape phenology and the emerging role it’s playing in the study of animal behavior and landscape ecology.

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The Mongabay Newscast previously looked at how soundscapes are being used in phenological studies when we talked about the great Sandhill crane migration on the Platte River in the US state of Nebraska. Today, we take a deeper dive into soundscape phenology with researcher Anne Axel, a landscape ecologist and professor at Marshall University in the US state of West Virginia.

Later this month, Axel will give a keynote address at the biennial Ecoacoustics Congress in Brisbane, Australia on soundscape phenology, a relatively new line of bioacoustic research. Ecoacoustic studies have informed much of Axel’s work, allowing her to better understand how differences in dry forest phenology — the study of cyclical and seasonal life events in plants and animals — and the impacts of human disturbance are reflected in dry forest ecology. For a recent study in Madagascar, Axel used bioacoustic recordings together with data on livestock movements, lemur density estimates, and satellite imagery to map spatial patterns of biodiversity and disturbance, placing her at the forefront of the new research method known as soundscape phenology.

Axel tells us all about this new field of study and plays a few of the recordings that have informed her research in this Field Notes segment.

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A white-footed sportive lemur (Lepilemur leucopus) in a spiny Alluaudia procera plant, a common inhabitant of dry forests. Photo by Rhett Butler.

Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001

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