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Subsidient: Yannick Wiegers/Utrecht University
Subsidy: S20.1-68

Wildlife populations are rapidly declining in Central Africa due to forest degradation and hunting pressure. Effective wildlife monitoring techniques are essential to accurately inform the conservation of this region’s biodiversity. Recent technological developments have made it possible for acoustic devices to record the vocalizations of all kinds of wildlife, such as insects, frogs, birds, and primates. This study used acoustic recorders to investigate the effect of human activities on the vocal wildlife in a Gabonese rainforest. We used so-called ‘soundscapes’ to calculate how many vocalizing species were present in several patches of forest, each with a different management type and history. This study is the first to test and apply this method in Central Africa. Among other things, soundscape-analysis was able to show that logging decreases vocal species richness. Surprisingly, the forest where hunting was most intense also contained the most vocal species. The larger, silent species might have disappeared here, leaving more room for smaller, more vocal animals such as birds. In general, we have shown that soundscape-analysis is an effective general indicator of acoustic diversity and that is can be used to monitor human impacts on African rainforests.