Good vibrations: how listening to the sounds of soil helps us monitor and restore forest health

Nurturing a forest ecosystem back to life after it’s been logged is not always easy.

It can take a lot of hard work and careful monitoring to ensure biodiversity thrives again. But monitoring biodiversity can be costly, intrusive and resource-intensive. That’s where ecological acoustic survey methods, or “ecoacoustics”, come into play.

Indeed, the planet sings. Think of birds calling, bats echolocating, tree leaves fluttering in the breeze, frogs croaking and bush crickets stridulating. We live in a euphonious theatre of life.

Even the creatures in the soil beneath our feet emit unique vibrations as they navigate through the earth to commute, hunt, feed and mate.

Eavesdropping on this subterranean cacophony using special microphones can provide researchers with important insights into ecosystem health. Our new study published in Restoration Ecology shows ecoacoustics can provide an effective way of monitoring biodiversity in soil and in the forest it supports.

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