Acoustic profiling of the landscape

Grant, Paul Brian Charles (2014-04)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Soft, serene insect songs add an intrinsic aesthetic value to the landscape. Yet these songs also have an important biological relevance. Acoustic signals across the landscape carry a multitude of localized information allowing organisms to communicate invisibly within their environment. Ensifera are cryptic participants of nocturnal soundscapes, contributing to ambient acoustics through their diverse range of proclamation songs. Although not without inherent risks and constraints, the single most important function of signalling is sexual advertising and pair formation. In order for acoustic communication to be effective, signals must maintain their encoded information so as to lead to positive phonotaxis in the receiver towards the emitter. In any given environment, communication is constrained by various local abiotic and biotic factors, resulting in Ensifera utilizing acoustic niches, shifting species songs spectrally, spatially and temporally for their optimal propagation in the environment. Besides the importance of Ensifera songs from an ethological point of view, the multitude of species-specific signals provide an acoustic tapestry representing species diversity across ecological gradients and over time. Acoustic inventorying and monitoring of the landscape can reflect the environmental status of ecological systems, from natural to disturbed by human influence. In contrast to traditional survey techniques, sound recording and interpretation is a non-invasive method that allows for the detection and classification of highly cryptic, yet insightful indicators of ecosystem change. Here, acoustic monitoring was used across diverse ecological gradients to improve understanding of species diversity patterns, and how they change in response to both natural gradients and in response to the human dominated landscape mosaic. This study was undertaken in three geographic locations from tropical rain forest of Brunei, Borneo, to the landscapemosaic of plantation forestry in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and to the botanically rich, mountain fynbos region of the Cape Floristic Region, also in South Africa. Each region provided a diverse and particular landscape to test the value of acoustic surveys for determining local diversity patterns across natural gradients and to assess the value of the technique for assessing the impact human influence across landscapes. In tropical rainforests, an entire acoustic guild was investigated to determine how acoustic species partition their acoustic communication channels spectrally, temporally and spatially, to avoid acoustic interference. The overall assemblage showed considerable spectral partitioning. Diurnally active species showed low temporal niche overlap, whereas nocturnal species did not utilize temporal partitioning. Lack of nocturnal temporal partitioning suggests other mechanisms of acoustic avoidance are sufficient to avoid acoustic overlap, or that there are insufficient cues to partition nocturnal acoustic environments. Acoustic species also utilized spatial partitioning, with distinct acoustic assemblages at vertical heights and with elevation. Utilization of a range of different strategies allow many species to communicate with conspecifics with little or no interference from other species in a signal rich environment. Acoustic profiling was also undertaken in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, across a plantation forestry landscape mosaic with diverse ecological gradients containing both alien and indigenous vegetation, as well as boarding large natural protected areas. Areas covered in alien timber or non-endemic grass were devoid of acoustic signals. Managed areas that were mowed and heavily grazed were not effective in maintaining the natural complement of nocturnal acoustic species. Within natural vegetation patches inside plantations, acoustic species richness increased with plant heterogeneity and patch size. Patches of indigenous vegetation within the plantation matrix effectively reduced the contrast of transformed landscapes with surrounding natural areas, with indigenous forest patches containing a highly characteristic acoustic species assemblage. Within the botanically rich, mountain fynbos region of the Cape Floristic Region, acoustic profiling was conducted across gradients of elevation, season and vegetation. Across these gradients, katydid acoustic signals were identified and characterized for the first time. This resulted in the discovery of two new katydid species and a novel sound producing structure in a carabid beetle, a species previously unknown to produce sound. Acoustic diversity across seasonal and elevational gradients increased with increasing temperatures. Climatic variability along the elevational gradient produced variation in seasonal phenology. Katydids also utilized high frequency acoustic signals, which is probably an adaptation to overcome background noise from wind, so prevalent in this area. Furthermore, despite producing conspicuous signals for mate attraction and pair formation, katydids were found not to be part of bat-eared fox diet, an insectivorous, nocturnal predator that uses its characteristic large ears to detect sounds made by invertebrate prey. This study shows the value of using acoustic emissions from katydids to identify acoustic diversity patterns across ecological gradients and in response to human impacts on the landscape.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Sagte, rustige insekliedjies voeg ‘n intrinsieke estetiese waarde aan die landskap. Tog is hierdie liedjies ook van belangrike biologiese waarde. Akoestiese seine oor die landskap dra ‘n magdom plaaslike inligting wat organismes in staat stel om onsigbaar te kommunikeer binne hul omgewing. Langhoringsprinkane is kriptiese deelnemers van die nagtelike klankomgewing en dra by tot die omringende akoestiek deur hul verskeidenheid van proklamasieliedjies. Alhoewel dit nie sonder inherente risiko’s en beperkings is nie, is die belangrikste funksie van seine seksuele advertering en paarvorming. Vir akoestiese kommunikasie om effektief te wees, moet seine hul geënkodeerde inligting handhaaf, sodat dit sal lei tot positiewe fonotaksis in die ontvanger teenoor die emittor. In enige gegewe omgewing, word kommunikasie beperk deur verskeie plaaslike abiotiese en biotiese faktore. Dit lei tot die gebruik van akoestiese nisse deur langhoringsprinkane, wat hulle liedjies spektraal, ruimtelik en temporeel aanpas vir optimale verspreiding in die omgewing. Benewens die belang van die langhoringsprinkaan liedjies uit ʼn etologiese oogpunt, bied die menigte spesie-spesifieke seine ʼn akoestiese tapisserie wat spesiesdiversiteit verteenwoordig oor ekologiese gradiënte en oor tyd. Akoestiese opname en monitering van die landskap kan die omgewingstoestand van ekologiese stelsels weerspieël, van natuurlike tot menslik versteurde stelsels. In teenstelling met tradisionele opnametegnieke, is klankopname en interpretasie ʼn nie-indringende metode wat dit moontlik maak om hoogs kriptiese, nog insiggewende indikators van ekosisteemverandering op te spoor en te klassifiseer. In hierdie studie is akoestiese monitering gebruik oor diverse ekologiese gradiënte om ons begrip te verbeter van spesies diversiteitspatrone, en hoe dit verander in reaksie op beide natuurlike gradiënte en in reaksie op die menslik gedomineerde landskapmosaïek. Hierdie studie is onderneem in drie geografiese liggings: tropiese reënwoud in Brunei, Borneo, die landskapmosaïek van plantasiebosbou in KwaZulu-Natal, Suid-Afrika, en die plantryke, bergfynbos-streek van die Kaap Floristiese Streek, ook in Suid-Afrika. Elke streek het 'n diverse en besondere landskap verskaf om die waarde van akoestiese opnames te toets vir die bepaling van plaaslike diversiteitspatrone in natuurlike gradiënte, asook om die waarde van die tegniek te bepaal vir die beoordeling van die impak van menslike invloed oor landskappe. In tropiese reënwoude, is 'n hele akoestiese gilde ondersoek om te bepaal hoe akoestiese spesies hul akoestiese kommunikasiekanale spektraal, ruimtelik en temporeel verdeel om akoestiese inmenging te vermy. Die algehele groep het aansienlike spektrale verdeling getoon. Dagaktiewe spesies het lae temporele nisoorvleueling getoon, terwyl nagtelike spesie nie temporele verdeling benut het nie. Gebrek aan nagtelike temporele verdeling dui daarop dat ander meganismes van akoestiese vermyding voldoende is om akoestiese oorvleueling te vermy, of dat daar onvoldoende seine is om nagtelike akoestiese omgewings te verdeel. Akoestiese spesies het ook ruimtelike verdeling benut, met verskillende akoestiese spesiesversamelings op vertikale hoogtes en met hoogte bo seevlak. Die gebruik van 'n verskeidenheid van strategieë maak dit moontlik vir spesies om te kommunikeer met min of geen inmenging van ander spesies in 'n seinryke omgewing. Akoestiese profielsamestelling is ook onderneem in KwaZulu-Natal, Suid-Afrika, oor 'n plantasiebosbou landskapmosaïek met diverse ekologiese gradiënte wat beide uitheemse en inheemse plantegroei, sowel as groot, natuurlike, beskermde gebiede ingesluit het. Gebiede wat bestaan het uit uitheemse timmerhoutbome of nie-endemiese gras, was heeltemal sonder akoestiese seine. Bestuursgebiede wat gesny en swaar bewei was, het nie doeltreffend die natuurlike komplement van nagtelike akoestiese spesies gehandhaaf nie. In natuurlike plantegroei fragmente binne plantasies, het akoestiese spesiesrykheid toegeneem met plantverskeidenheid en fragmentgrootte. Fragmente van inheemse plantegroei binne die plantasiematriks het effektief die kontras van getransformeerde landskappe met omliggende natuurlike gebiede verminder, en inheemse woudefragmente het hoogs kenmerkende akoestiese spesiesversamelings gehad. Binne die plantryke bergfynbosstreek van die Kaap Floristiese Streek, was akoestiese profielsamestelling gedoen oor gradiënte van hoogte bo seevlak, seisoen en plantegroei. Oor hierdie gradiënte, is langhoringsprinkaan akoestiese seine geïdentifiseer en gekenmerk vir die eerste keer. Dit het gelei tot die ontdekking van twee nuwe langhoringsprinkaan spesies en 'n nuwe klankvervaardiging struktuur in 'n Carabid kewer, 'n spesie wat nie voorheen bekend was om klank te produseer nie. Akoestiese diversiteit oor gradiënte van seisoen en hoogte bo seevlak het toegeneem met toenemende temperature. Variasie in klimaatstoestande oor die gradiënt van hoogte bo seevlak het variasie in seisoenale fenologie veroorsaak. Langhoringsprinkane het ook hoë frekwensie akoestiese seine benut, wat waarskynlik 'n aanpassing is om agtergrondgeraas van die wind, wat so algemeen is in hierdie gebied, te bowe te kom. Verder, ten spyte van die vervaardiging van opvallende seine vir maataantrekking en paarvorming, het langhoringsprinkane nie deel gevorm van die bakoorjakkals se dieet nie. Hierdie is 'n insekvretende, nagtelike roofdier wat gebruik maak van sy kenmerkende groot ore om klanke op te spoor wat gemaak word deur invertebraatprooi. Hierdie studie toon die waarde van die gebruik van akoestiese seine van langhoringsprinkane om akoestiese diversiteitspatrone te identifiseer oor ekologiese gradiënte en in reaksie op menslike impakte op die landskap.

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