Borneo and Papua New Guinea | The Sounds of Biodiversity

It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words. To Zuzana Burivalova, an audio recording is worth a thousand pictures. That’s the beauty of bioacoustics, Burivalova’s area of focus as a new faculty member in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology.

She’s using the methods of this emerging science to better understand biodiversity in tropical forests. “Bioacoustics and soundscape ecology are all about figuring out where biodiversity is and how it’s changing using the sounds that animals make,” says Burivalova, who also has an appointment with the UW Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. “In a tropical forest, you don’t see many animals, but you can hear a ton. At times you can hear 30 species within a minute.”

The ability to hear biodiversity adds another implement to the conservation biology tool belt. Historically, scientists would visit a forest and count the species they could see, a time-consuming, costly effort that is prone to bias. Motion-detecting cameras, another tool, are great for capturing large animals on the ground but can miss smaller animals and those in the tree canopies.

Read the full story originally published by Caroline Schneider.