Subsidient: Johan Diepstraten/Utrecht University
Subsidy: S20.2-65

Soundscape studies gained popularity over the last years. They can aid conservation by improving the understanding of an environment from both an ecological and behavioural point of view. My study deepens this understanding by describing acoustic communities and evaluating the effects of anthropogenic and ecological factors on soundscape structure along a gradient of disturbance in a tropical rainforest of southeast Cameroon. 20485 1-minute sound recordings were made in three study sites representing a disturbance gradient. Local experts listened to these recordings to identify vocalising species to determine the soundscape structure. Additionally, data on anthropogenic and ecological factors was gathered. Insects and, to a lesser extent, birds proved to be the most dominant animal classes in the soundscape. Furthermore, mammal acoustic activity did not vary along the disturbance gradient, whereas vocalisation abundance of birds was lowest in the site where anthropogenic disturbance was least present. In addition, anthropogenic disturbance affected the soundscape indirectly through its impact on the animal community structure. In turn, animal community structure and climate factors directly affected the soundscape. Overall, the study provides baseline acoustic information on vocalising species in African tropical rainforests. This will help guide future decision making and conservation planning.