Sounds of Nature is a community research project to understand changes in biodiversity over time by studying “soundscapes”. Through Sounds of Nature, a team of researchers and citizen scientists are participating in and contributing to a state-wide project to monitor biodiversity in their backyard and beyond.
In Sounds of Nature, we are using innovative monitoring of soundscapes combined with the power of the public through citizen science to detect large-scale changes in biodiversity across our region. Teams of university researchers and citizen scientists use inexpensive, portable sound recorders to collect sounds for a few days across forests, grasslands, agricultural areas, and even urban areas throughout Illinois. Our teams then retrieve the recorders and transfer recorded soundscapes to a computer system to be processed with modern machine learning techniques in bioacoustic analysis. Our researchers review recordings and identify birds by their calls. These representative bird calls are used to train a computer routine to automatically identify birds in hours and hours of soundscape recordings. We couple the information of which bird species are detected across with remote sensing information to understand how changes in land cover, climate, and land use have affected birds and the greater biodiversity of our region.