Scientist Develops Method For Monitoring Ecosystem Health Through Sound : Short Wave On a rapidly changing planet, there are many ways to measure the health of an ecosystem. Can sound be one of them? We dive into a new methodology that applies machine learning technology to audio soundscape recordings. Lead researcher Sarab Sethi explains how this method could be used to potentially predict ecosystem health around the world.

What Does A Healthy Rainforest Sound Like?

What Does A Healthy Rainforest Sound Like?

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Audio recorders in treetops are powered with solar panels. One aspect of the SAFE Acoustics Project is to monitor ecosystem health through sound. SAFE Acoustics hide caption

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SAFE Acoustics

Audio recorders in treetops are powered with solar panels. One aspect of the SAFE Acoustics Project is to monitor ecosystem health through sound.

SAFE Acoustics

On a rapidly changing planet, there are many ways to measure the health of an ecosystem. Can sound be one of them?

In today's episode, NPR Short Wave reporter Emily Kwong dives into a new methodology that applies machine learning technology to audio soundscape recordings. Lead researcher Sarab Sethi explains how this method could be used to predict ecosystem health around the world and detect anomalous sounds caused by human action, from logging to poaching to the ecological impacts of climate change.

Read the full paper here: "Characterizing soundscapes across diverse ecosystems using universal acoustic feature set," PNAS July 21, 2020 117 (29) 17049-17055; first published July 7, 2020

You can listen to audio from the SAFE Acoustics Project in the rainforest in Borneo at acoustics.safeproject.net.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

This episode was produced by Abby Wendle, edited by Viet Le and fact-checked by Emily Kwong.