Assessing the effects of habitat management practices on vocalizing animals using passive acoustic monitoring

Richard Beason

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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There is an urgent need for effective and efficient technologies suitable for assessing the impacts of anthropogenic activity on biodiversity and ecosystem health. This project explores the potential of passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) for investigating the effects of different habitat management types on the activity and diversity of bats and birds. PAM is non-invasive, does not require line-of-sight and can monitor a wide variety of species. In order to record both audible and ultrasonic frequencies, custom recording devices were developed for this study (Chapter 2). The following specific questions were addressed:
Chapter 3. How does the invasion of forest understorey by Rhododendron ponticum affect the activity of different bat species in comparison to areas where rhododendron is absent or has recently been removed? I found that effects of invasive rhododendron on native bat species vary according to their respective foraging strategy. In addition, some bat species were negatively affected by the presence of deer.
Chapter 4. How do tree species richness and tree species composition affect acoustic diversity and activity of avian communities in temperate forests? Acoustic indices representing bird diversity demonstrated significant positive relationships with tree species richness, and relationships with some tree species. Some evidence that mixing broadleaves and conifers could benefit bird diversity was also found.
Chapter 5. How do the different types of scrub created by rewilding using free-roaming mammalian herbivores differ in the activity levels of bird and bat communities? Bats with different foraging strategies demonstrated niche separation between the different habitats created by rewilding. Habitat characteristics also had significant effects on bird acoustic indices.
This thesis demonstrates how PAM can be used to monitor the effects of different habitat managements on two different groups of taxa. However, further developments in analysis methods, particularly automated species identification, are necessary to realise its full potential.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Koricheva, Julia, Supervisor
  • Riesch, Rudiger, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Apr 2020
Publication statusUnpublished - 2020


  • Passive Acoustic Monitoring
  • Ecoacoustics
  • Habitat management
  • Bats
  • Birds
  • Acoustic Indices
  • Invasive species
  • Rewilding
  • Autonomous Recording Unit

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