Birds return to 15-year-old regrowth forests in almost the same numbers of species as old growth forests, a QUT ecoacoustic research study has found.
The findings will be presented at the Ecoacoustics Congress this week featuring scientists who use environmental sound sensors to monitor biodiversity in out-of-the-way places.
QUT ecoacoustic researcher Professor Paul Roe said ecoacoustic monitoring saves thousands of human hours in the field gathering vital data from manual surveys of wildlife.
“QUT has a long and extensive body of research on ecoacoustics,” Professor Roe said.
“We have used ecoacoustic sensors to: capture koala calls to estimate their numbers in a particular area; listen for the call of thought-to-be extinct frogs in the area they were last seen; and, keep watch on cane toad encroachment on toad-free islands.”
QUT student Brendan Doohan’s research on regrowth acacia forests in the Mulga Lands of Queensland found that bird diversity increased as the time since the forest was cleared increased.
“Using ecoacoustic sensors I monitored bird calls in old growth, intermediate growth (cleared within 15 to 30 years) and recently cleared areas.
“While my findings show that old growth forests still have the highest levels of biodiversity, regrowth acacia woodlands support a wide variety of species at different stages of regeneration.
“It suggests that protecting acacia-dominated regrowth vegetation in the semi-arid Mulga Lands should be a priority as it represents important habitat for bird diversity in the region.”
Mr Doohan's research was supervised by QUT's Dr Susan Fuller with support form the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and AWC ecologist Jeanette Kemp.
Keynote speaker, Dr Michael Towsey from QUT’s Ecoacoustics Research team will talk about the challenges still facing researchers as this exciting field of ecoacoustic monitoring develops.
He works on the ‘big data’ problems associated with visualisation of long duration recordings of the environment and automated recognizers for species of interest such as the koala, cane toad and New Zealand kiwi.
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