Quirks & Quarks

Eavesdropping on the Sounds of a Rainforest

Researchers use the recorded sounds of a rainforest in Papua New Guinea to get a better idea of the richness of life in it, and to compare healthy and unhealthy ecosystems.

Using the rich soundscapes of the rainforest to understand ecosystem health.

Dr. Game deploys an acoustic sampling recorder (Justine E. Hausheer / The Nature Conservancy)
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The rainforests of Papua New Guinea are known for their rich biodiversity. But with the growth of the country's population, those forests have been diminished by logging, as well as the need for local landowners to increase the size of their gardens.

In order to better understand the impact deforestation is having on wildlife, the Nature Conservancy - a charitable environmental organization - took a novel approach to managing and protecting such challenging and sometimes inhospitable terrain.

Dr. Eddie Game, from the group's Asia Pacific branch in Brisbane, Australia, recorded the sound of the forest, 24 hours a day, for several consecutive days. The long and complex soundscapes were then analysed for the purpose of comparing known healthy forests to those degraded by deforestation.  

Related Links

- The Nature Conservancy blog
- Video: Eddie Game explains recording device
- Video: Eddie Game listens to recordings
Audio: Rainforest sounds
- The Scientist article
- Smithsonian Magazine article
- The Age newspaper article