Bird population declines and species turnover are changing the acoustic properties of spring soundscapes

Morrison, C. A. ORCID:, Auniņš, A., Benkő, Z., Brotons, L., Chodkiewicz, T., Chylarecki, P., Escandell, V., Eskildsen, D. P., Gamero, A., Herrando, S., Jiguet, F., Kålås, J. A., Kamp, J., Klvaňová, A., Kmecl, P., Lehikoinen, A., Lindström, Å., Moshøj, C., Noble, D. G., Øien, I. J., Paquet, J-Y., Reif, J., Sattler, T., Seaman, B. S., Teufelbauer, N., Trautmann, S., van Turnhout, C. A. M., Vořišek, P. and Butler, S. J. ORCID: (2021) Bird population declines and species turnover are changing the acoustic properties of spring soundscapes. Nature Communications, 12 (1). ISSN 2041-1723

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Natural sounds, and bird song in particular, play a key role in building and maintaining our connection with nature, but widespread declines in bird populations mean that the acoustic properties of natural soundscapes may be changing. Using data-driven reconstructions of soundscapes in lieu of historical recordings, here we quantify changes in soundscape characteristics at more than 200,000 sites across North America and Europe. We integrate citizen science bird monitoring data with recordings of individual species to reveal a pervasive loss of acoustic diversity and intensity of soundscapes across both continents over the past 25 years, driven by changes in species richness and abundance. These results suggest that one of the fundamental pathways through which humans engage with nature is in chronic decline, with potentially widespread implications for human health and well-being.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Acknowledgements: We thank the thousands of volunteer citizen-scientists who contributed to the long-term bird-monitoring programmes in North America and Europe, the institutions that manage these programmes, and those funding these activities. The Norwegian Environment Agency finances the Norwegian common breeding bird monitoring and the Swedish Bird Survey is supported by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and carried out in collaboration with all 21 regional county boards. It acts within the framework of the strategic research environment Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in a Changing Climate (BECC). J.R. was supported by Charles University in Prague (project no. PRIMUS/17/SCI/16). We are also grateful to the many sound recorders that have submitted files to the Xeno Canto collection ( This work was supported by Natural Environment Research Council grant NE/T007/354/1. We thank L. Spurgin for advice on analysis; and J. Gill and J. Sauer for helpful discussions and comments on the manuscript. Soundscape reconstruction was carried out on the High-Performance Computing Cluster supported by the Research and Specialist Computing Support Service (RSCSS) at the University of East Anglia. Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s).
Uncontrolled Keywords: physics and astronomy(all),chemistry(all),biochemistry, genetics and molecular biology(all),sdg 3 - good health and well-being ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3100
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Science > Research Centres > Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Organisms and the Environment
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2021 02:12
Last Modified: 14 May 2023 05:30
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-26488-1


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