Is it possible to ‘hear’ nature?
Scientists can overhear the natural world using digital bioacoustics, and they're discovering some amazing things.
Scientists have recently produced some astounding discoveries on non-human sounds. Researchers are documenting the universal importance of sound to life on Earth using digital bioacoustics — tiny, portable digital recorders similar to those found in your smartphone.
Scientists are discovering the secret sounds of nature by installing these digital microphones all around the planet, from the depths of the ocean, to the Arctic and the Amazon, many of which occur at ultrasonic or infrasonic frequencies, above or below human hearing range.
Non-humans are constantly conversing, most of which the naked human ear cannot hear. Digital bioacoustics, on the other hand, assists us in hearing these noises by acting as a planetary-scale hearing aid and allowing people to capture nature's sounds beyond the limitations of our sensory capacities.
Researchers are now decoding complex communication in other species using artificial intelligence (AI).
Scientists are discovering some amazing things when they eavesdrop on nature. Many creatures that we traditionally thought were silent really generate a lot of noise in various instances.
Scientists are also discovering that vocally active species, such as bats, produce sounds that convey far more detailed information than previously assumed.
Some of the findings:
Acoustic tuning is also common in nature. Coral and fish larvae return home by imprinting on the distinct noises produced by the reef where they were born.
Scientists found out that Amazonian marine turtles produce almost 200 unique noises. According to research, turtle hatchlings even generate sounds while still in their eggs, before hatching, to synchronize the moment of their birth. The research has also revealed that mother turtles wait nearby in the river, calling to their babies to guide them away from predators: the first scientific proof of parental care in turtles, which were traditionally considered to abandon their eggs.
Other researchers unmasked that bats remember favors and keep grudges, socially separate and go quiet when ill, and utilize vocal labels that disclose individual and kin identity. Scientists also found out that male bats acquire territorial songs in distinct dialects from their fathers and, like birds, sing these songs to protect territory and attract mates, a phenomenon scientists call culture.
Meanwhile, scientists have also found out that Coral and fish larvae return home by imprinting on the distinct noises produced by the reef where they were born.
To avoid detection by bat sonar, moths have developed echolocation jamming skills, as per scientists.
Other findings showed that flowers and vines have evolved leaves that reflect echolocation back to bats as if they were using a brilliant acoustic flashlight to entice pollinators. Flowers flood themselves with nectar in response to the buzz of bees.
In short, digital listening demonstrates that we have much more to learn about nonhumans and opens up new avenues for environmental protection and conservation.