Australian Nature Guides' founder, Simon Ling, kicked off his most recent learning journey by undertaking a PhD studying patterns and changes in biodiversity in... you guessed it; Carnarvon Gorge.
Few know that Simon's first occupation after high school was as a musician in a band with a bunch of mates. It appears this affinity with sound has popped up in other areas of his life. Simon undertook research on the calling behaviour of the Gorge's yellow-bellied gliders in 2010 and sound is also central to his PhD work.
As of February, 2023, Simon has twenty audio recorders spread across the mouth of the Gorge sampling five different vegetation communities. In thick Vegetation, the recorders are powered by lithium ion batteries.
In habitats with more light penetration, the units have lead acid batteries topped up by a solar panel. All recorders are sampling audio 24/7, generating large amounts of audio data.
Using the soundscape thus recorded, Simon is exploring whether this technique can accurately be used to monitor diversity. Can you tell the health of an ecosystem by monitoring sound alone? Do different vegetation communities sound different? Do changes in soundscapes over time reflect real world changes on the ground?
By surveying these sites physically and comparing those results to information gleaned from the audio recordings Simon hopes to answer these questions and contribute not only to a relatively new field of scientific enquiry, but also to our knowledge of what lives in Carnarvon Gorge's vegetation communities, whether patterns in biodiversity exist in the Gorge, and whether they change through time.