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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Sounds of Nature are Fading

Owl flying

Eric Isselée/

study from the University of East Anglia School of Biological Sciences (UK) published in the journal Nature Communications suggests that our natural environment is becoming quieter and less varied due to changes in the makeup of bird populations. Researchers used annual bird monitoring data collected as part of the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme and North American Breeding Bird Survey, plus recordings of birds in the wild, to reconstruct the soundscapes of more than 200,000 sites over the last 25 years.

Lead author Simon Butler states, “We’re living through a global environmental crisis with ongoing and widespread declines in biodiversity. This means that the quality of our interactions with nature is likely to be declining, reducing its potential benefits, but this has not previously been examined.” Other groups that contribute to natural soundscapes such as insects and amphibians are also declining, while road traffic and other sources of manmade noise are increasing. Butler explains, “As we collectively become less aware of our natural surroundings, we also start to notice or care less about their deterioration. We hope this study can help heighten awareness of these losses and encourage support for conservation through actions to protect and restore high-quality, natural soundscapes.”

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