A framework for quantifying soundscape diversity using Hill numbers

Thomas Luypaert, Anderson S. Bueno, Gabriel S. Masseli, Igor L. Kaefer, Marconi Campos-Cerqueira, Carlos A. Peres, Torbjørn Haugaasen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Soundscape studies are increasingly used to capture landscape-scale ecological patterns. Yet, several aspects of soundscape diversity remain unexplored. Although some processes influencing acoustic niche usage may operate in the 24-hr temporal domain, most acoustic indices only capture the diversity of sounds co-occurring in sound files at a specific time of day. Moreover, many indices do not consider the relationship between the spectral and temporal traits of sounds simultaneously. To provide novel insights into landscape-scale patterns of acoustic niche usage at broader temporal scales, we present a workflow to quantify soundscape diversity through the lens of trait-based ecology.
Our workflow quantifies the diversity of sound in the 24-hr acoustic trait space. We introduce the Operational Sound Unit (OSU), a unit of diversity measurement that groups sounds by their shared acoustic properties. Using OSUs and building on the framework of Hill numbers, we propose three metrics that capture different aspects of acoustic trait space usage: (i) soundscape richness, (ii) soundscape diversity and (iii) soundscape evenness. We demonstrate the use of these metrics by (a) simulating soundscapes to assess whether the indices possess a set of desirable behaviours and (b) quantifying soundscape richness and evenness along a gradient in species richness.
We demonstrate that (a) the indices outlined herein have desirable behaviours and (b) the soundscape richness and evenness are positively correlated with the richness of sound-producing species. This suggests that more acoustic niche space is occupied when the species richness is higher. Additionally, species-poor acoustic communities have a higher proportion of rare sounds and use the acoustic space less evenly.
Our workflow generates novel insights into acoustic niche usage at a landscape scale and provides a useful tool for biodiversity monitoring. Moreover, Hill numbers can also be used to measure the taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic diversity. Using a common framework for diversity measurement gives metrics a common behaviour, interpretation and standardised unit, thus ensuring comparisons between soundscape diversity and other metrics represent real-world ecological patterns rather than mathematical artefacts stemming from different formulae.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2262-2274
Number of pages13
JournalMethods in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number10
Early online date18 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

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