Changing Sounds in Spring – The Poetry of Science


Dawn breaks over the
decreasing sound
forced retirement.
A forced refrain
by the naked and void noise
that permeates our bandwidth.
Communities concerned
trace this diminuendo
captured by
acoustic accessories
future soundscapes
of your
and pitch
and voice.
Imminent silence
marked firmly
by our
extinction of
to live.

A Common Firecrest singing in a conifer in Galicia, Spain (Image credit: Noel Feans, via Wikimedia Commons).

This poem is inspired by recent research, who found that the sounds of spring change, with dawn choirs across North America and Europe becoming calmer and less varied.

The extinction of experience concerns the loss of human-nature interactions. These interactions can take a wide variety of forms, including walking in wilderness areas, visiting urban green spaces, listening to birdsong, picking flowers, or catching insects. Unfortunately, this extinction of experience leads to an increasing disconnection between man and nature, with negative impacts on physical health, cognitive abilities and well-being. Not only does this loss reduce the important benefits people derive from these interactions, it can also undermine their support for biodiversity policies and management actions, and thus play an important role in shaping the future of the biodiversity. As such, it is extremely important to help make some of these losses more visible and responsible.

In this new study, the researchers used annual bird count data for more than 200,000 sites in North America and Europe and combined them with records of more than 1,000 species from a database. online calls and songs of birds. This was then used to reconstruct the historic soundscapes of these sites from 1996 to 2018, with their acoustic characteristics quantified using four indices designed to quantify the diversity and intensity of each soundscape as a whole. Analyzing these clues, the researchers found a widespread decline in the acoustic diversity and intensity of these natural soundscapes, driven by changes in the composition of bird communities, with the decline most pronounced in the spring, when the birds are the most vocally active. The researchers also observed that the sites that experienced the greatest declines in bird populations also had the greatest declines in diversity and acoustic intensity. This research highlights that measures are now needed to ensure the protection and recovery of high quality natural soundscapes in order to prevent their further deterioration, and to guard against the associated impacts that this loss will have on our own link with nature, to try to stop this extinction of experience.

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