January 20, 2022 4:50 pm

The song of the birds is lower and less varied due to the decrease in species

The soundtrack that birds create is every time quieter and less varied due to the decrease in species due to the climate change, according to a study that has reconstructed for the first time on a large scale the soundscapes created by birds at more than 200,000 sites in the last 25 years.

The work, published in the journal ‘Nature Communications’, has developed a new technique that combines bird tracking data obtained through citizen science observations, with recordings of individual species in the open air.

The study concludes that the soundtrack of nature generated by birds, which has already been shown to improve people’s physical health and psychological well-being, it is increasingly simple and not very heterogeneous.

The investigation, which has reconstructed soundscapes from more than 200,000 sites in Europe and North America, It has been directed by Simon Butler, from the University of East Anglia (Great Britain), with the participation of Lluís Brotons, CSIC researcher at CREAF.

Brotons attributes the general decline in bird biodiversity and sound intensity especially to the changes in the composition of their communities.

Acoustic structure

“The result indicates that, due to the decrease in bird species, the acoustic structure of natural soundscapes generated by birds is increasingly simple and not very heterogeneous,” according to Brotons. These results suggest that the soundtrack composed by nature is becoming “quieter”.

According to the researchers, “one of the fundamental ways through which human beings relate to nature is in chronic decline, with potentially broad implications for human health and well-being. “

In the reconstruction of historical soundscapes, in which ornithologists and scientists from centers and institutes of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Slovenia, Spain, Finland, France, Holland, Norway, Poland, Romania, Switzerland and the Czech Republic have participated, they have used data from annual bird counts from the North American Breeding Bird Survey and Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme enclaves.

These data have been combined with the recordings of more than a thousand species of Xeno Canto, an exhaustive online database that makes available the chirping of songs and songs of birds from all over the world. The researchers say that the relationship between changes in the structure of bird communities and the characteristics of the resulting soundscape is not easy to predict.

For Brotons“As people hear more than we see birds, the lower quality of natural soundscapes is likely to make us notice more of the impact of the current reduction in bird populations.”

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The researchers give as an example the loss of a species like the willow warbler, which sings a rich and intricate song, likely to have a greater impact on the complexity of the soundscape than the loss of some kind of raucous corvid or gull.

“Unfortunately, we are experiencing a global environmental crisis, and now we know that the decreased connection between people and nature may be contributing to this “, warn the researchers, who believe that studies of this type help “to increase awareness of these losses in a tangible and relatable way and to demonstrate the possible impact on human well-being.”


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