When you walk through a forest, you might not catch a glimpse of many birds and animals. But chances are, you can hear them.

So sound recordings can help scientists learn which animals are where and when.

Zuzana Burivalova of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, used soundscapes to study how wildlife in a tropical forest in Borneo was affected by selective logging.

“The soundscape becomes really, really empty. And then over the next couple of weeks, the soundscape becomes busier again as animals start coming back,” Burivalova says.

She says the approach can be an effective way to monitor how human actions affect biodiversity.

That information can be used to hold companies accountable for forest degradation. And it can even help guide forest restoration efforts.

“To combat climate change, there’s been a lot of push to start reforesting, which is fantastic news,” Burivalova says.

But she says to create a healthy ecosystem, it’s important not just to plant trees to store carbon, but to encourage diverse wildlife species to return.

So using sound to monitor biodiversity can help ensure forest protection and restoration benefit not just the climate, but animals, too.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media