According to a study, an automated analysis of animal sounds can be used to draw good conclusions about the development of biodiversity in the area. The evaluation was tested with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) on tropical reforestation areas, as a team led by forestry scientist Jörg Müller from the University of Würzburg reports in the specialist journal “Nature Communications”. The sounds of birds, amphibians and mammals were taken into account.

Studies have previously shown that the presence of animal species can be tracked through soundscapes as forests are destroyed or restored. The research team now installed recording devices in northern Ecuador in South America on pastures and cocoa plantations that are no longer managed and where forests are gradually being established again. The recordings of the various animal sounds were then analyzed using AI models.

“The research results show that the sound data excellently reflect the return of biodiversity in the abandoned agricultural areas,” said Müller. “It is above all the sound of the species communities that represents the recolonization very well.” These communities have a very characteristic composition in the forest and differ significantly from those on agricultural areas that are still active.

From the researchers’ perspective, the AI ​​models used could provide a basis for studying biodiversity on other reforestation areas. In a next step, the scientists would like to improve and expand their models in order to be able to record more species. The system will also be used in the Bavarian Forest National Park in the future.

“Our AI models can be the basis for a very universal tool for monitoring biodiversity in reforested areas,” Müller is convinced. In reforestation projects, the system could also help monitor whether a diverse forest is actually emerging in an area as stated – or just a species-poor monoculture.