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Title: Animal soundscapes reveal key markers of Amazon forest degradation from fire and logging
Safeguarding tropical forest biodiversity requires solutions for monitoring ecosystem structure over time. In the Amazon, logging and fire reduce forest carbon stocks and alter habitat, but the long-term consequences for wildlife remain unclear, especially for lesser-known taxa. Here, we combined multiday acoustic surveys, airborne lidar, and satellite time series covering logged and burned forests ( n = 39) in the southern Brazilian Amazon to identify acoustic markers of forest degradation. Our findings contradict expectations from the Acoustic Niche Hypothesis that animal communities in more degraded habitats occupy fewer “acoustic niches” defined by time and frequency. Instead, we found that aboveground biomass was not a consistent proxy for acoustic biodiversity due to the divergent patterns of “acoustic space occupancy” between logged and burned forests. Ecosystem soundscapes highlighted a stark, and sustained reorganization in acoustic community assembly after multiple fires; animal communication networks were quieter, more homogenous, and less acoustically integrated in forests burned multiple times than in logged or once-burned forests. These findings demonstrate strong biodiversity cobenefits from protecting burned Amazon forests from recurrent fire. By contrast, soundscape changes after logging were subtle and more consistent with acoustic community recovery than reassembly. In both logged and burned forests, insects were the dominant acoustic markers of degradation, particularly during midday and nighttime hours, which are not typically sampled by traditional biodiversity field surveys. The acoustic fingerprints of degradation history were conserved across replicate recording locations, indicating that soundscapes may offer a robust, taxonomically inclusive solution for digitally tracking changes in acoustic community composition over time.  more » « less
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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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National Science Foundation
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