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There’s no question – the pandemic altered many aspects of everyday life for humans across the globe.
Urban noise from cars, trains and even planes was cut as work-from-home became the norm for many. And, as cities grew quieter, scientists began to wonder how these changes might be impacting the behaviour of wildlife in urban areas.
The Silent Cities project organised researchers around the world to record the unique urban soundscapes of lock downs.
Participants recorded one minute of outdoor sound every ten minutes in their area. Altogether, researchers hope to build a large dataset to better understand the effect of lockdowns on wildlife activity.
Darren O’Connell heard about the project and decided to help add coverage for Ireland and Northern England by setting up a network of recorders along with other local researchers.
“It has been a team effort. Six other researchers from Newcastle University, Trinity College Dublin and Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology have deployed and run recorders for our subsection of the project,” he said.
During the core data collection period, the group was under strict lockdown orders. Luckily, O’Connell’s colleague, Fred Windsor, was able to retrieve Song Meters stored at a locked-down Newcastle University and began shipping them out to collaborators. Participants were then taught how to use the recorders remotely.
“We hope to learn how our behaviour affects wildlife around our urban areas. We may pick up increased activity by wildlife, or increased use of urban areas. Also, I would expect we could see behavioural shifts by animals,” O’Connell said.
The data from this global study will be made available by the Open Science Foundation as a public dataset. Alternatively, you can see where researchers are participating in the study using this map.
In the spirit of reconciliation, Faunatech acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.
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