Linking ecological condition and the soundscape in fragmented Australian forests
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Natural landscapes are increasingly subjected to anthropogenic pressure and fragmentation resulting in reduced ecological condition. In this study we examined the relationship between ecological condition and the soundscape in fragmented forest remnants of south-east Queensland, Australia. The region is noted for its high biodiversity value and increased pressure associated with habitat fragmentation and urbanisation. Ten sites defined by a distinct open eucalypt forest community dominated by spotted gum (Corymbia citriodora ssp. variegata) were stratified based on patch size and patch connectivity. Each site underwent a series of detailed vegetation condition and landscape assessments, together with bird surveys and acoustic analysis using relative soundscape power. Univariate and multivariate analyses indicated that the measurement of relative soundscape power reflects ecological condition and bird species richness, and is dependent on the extent of landscape fragmentation. We conclude that acoustic monitoring technologies provide a cost effective tool for measuring ecological condition, especially in conjunction with established field observations and recordings.