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Audio: The best wildlife calls featured on the Mongabay Newscast in 2018

  • The Mongabay Newscast featured a lot of big names in conservation and environmental science in 2018, from E.O. Wilson and Thomas Lovejoy to David Suzuki and Sylvia Earle. (We even had a rock star, Grammy-winning guitarist James Valentine of Maroon 5, on the podcast to discuss why he’s doing his part to help stop illegal logging).
  • We strive to make scientific research accessible to everyone by having these luminaries of the field on the show to explain their work and share their thoughts on the latest trends. Another way we provide our listeners with an up-close look at what’s going on in the conservation science world is through our Field Notes segments, which feature recordings of wildlife calls captured by research scientists in the field.
  • The growing fields of bioacoustics and soundscape ecology are shedding light on animal behavior, how wildlife react to human pressures on their habitat, and how ecosystems evolve and change over time. Here are the very best Field Notes we featured on the Mongabay Newscast in 2018 so you can dive into this exciting new method of examining the natural world and the creatures with whom we share planet Earth.

The Mongabay Newscast featured a lot of big names in conservation and environmental science in 2018, from E.O. Wilson and Thomas Lovejoy to David Suzuki and Sylvia Earle. We even had a rock star, Grammy-winning guitarist James Valentine of Maroon 5, on the podcast to discuss why he’s doing his part to help stop illegal logging.

We strive to make scientific research accessible to everyone by having these luminaries in their fields on the show to explain their work and share their thoughts on the latest trends. Another way we provide our listeners with an up-close look at what’s going on in the conservation science world is through our Field Notes segments, which feature recordings of wildlife calls captured by research scientists in the field.

The growing fields of bioacoustics and soundscape ecology are shedding light on animal behavior, how wildlife react to human pressures on their habitat, and how ecosystems evolve and change over time. Here are the very best Field Notes we featured on the Mongabay Newscast in 2018 so you can dive into this exciting new method of examining the natural world and the creatures with whom we share planet Earth.

The night parrot

Four years ago, no scientist had ever documented the call of the night parrot, a species endemic to Australia. In 2013, a wild population was found in the Australian Outback, and scientists later discovered that the night parrot makes its call for about a 10-minute period every night just after sunset. Nick Leseberg, a PhD student at the University of Queensland, appeared on the Newscast all the way back in January 2018 to play us some of the night parrot calls he’s recorded during his research.

Night Parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis). Drawing by Martin Thompson.

The Great Sandhill Crane Migration

Ben Gottesman of the Center for Global Soundscapes at Purdue University and Emma Brinley Buckley of the Platte Basin Timelapse project use bioacoustics to study Sandhill cranes when the birds make a stopover on the Platte River in the U.S. state of Nebraska during their annual migration, one of the most ancient animal migrations on Earth. The researchers seek to understand how climate change is impacting the cranes’ migratory habits and how other important species in the ecosystem, such as chorus frogs, respond to changes in the environment. They played recordings of both species and more besides on the Newscast in March 2018.

Sandhill cranes flying in Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico, United States. Photo by Manjith Kainickara, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Buller’s shearwater

Behavioral ecologist Megan Friesen is working with the Northern New Zealand Seabird Trust to examine the breeding behavior of a Pacific seabird species called Buller’s shearwater, which breeds in the Poor Knights Islands off of northern New Zealand. Friesen stopped by the Mongabay Newscast in May 2018 to explain why bioacoustics are key to her research and play some recordings of the birds captured in its island breeding grounds.

A Buller’s shearwater on Tawhiti Rahi Island in the Poor Knights Island group, New Zealand. Photo by Edin Whitehead.

Lemurs and more in Madagascar

Anne Axel is a landscape ecologist who uses bioacoustics to study the cyclical and seasonal life events in plants and animals as well as the impacts of human disturbance in dry forests. Axel recently used bioacoustic recordings together with data on livestock movements, lemur density estimates, and satellite imagery to map Madagascar’s biodiversity and patterns of disturbance, and she was on the Newscast in June 2018 to play some of the recordings that informed that research.

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

Superb lyrebird

The superb lyrebird is an Australian songbird with such elaborate vocalization skills, including the ability to mimic other species’ songs, that David Attenborough once called their singing “the most elaborate, the most complex, the most beautiful song in the world.” Ornithologist Anastasia Dalziell has done studies that showed lyrebirds’ mimicry is so precise that even members of the species being imitated are fooled. In an August 2018 episode of the Newscast, Dalziell played a number of lyrebird songs that she’s recorded out in the field — hear the mimicry for yourself!

A male superb lyrebird singing and dancing on his courtship mound in Australia’s Dandenong Ranges National Park. Photo by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos, licensed under CC BY-NC.

Frogs in Honduras

Tree frogs in Honduras’ Cusuco National Park, some of which are found nowhere else on Earth, are being decimated by an aquatic fungal pathogen known as the chytrid fungus. Biologist and National Geographic explorer Jonathan Kolby founded the Honduras Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Center in order to study and rescue frogs affected by chytrid, and in October 2018 he played some recordings of the frog species he’s working to save — and explained why there might be hope that frogs and other amphibians affected by chytrid can successfully cope with the disease.

Soon after dark, a Mossy Red-eyed Frog (Duellmanohyla soralia) emerges from stream-side vegetation in Cusuco National Park in search of insects to consume. Photo by Jonathan E. Kolby.

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Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001

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