Sweet sounds of the pandemic shutdown
When businesses started closing because of the pandemic this spring, many joked that nature was reclaiming the land. It turns out that's kind of right.
when people started caging themselves in this spring, birds flew. The coop is sort of the first data showing that animals responded to changes in human behavior. Elizabeth Derry Berry is an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UT Knoxville. She's been studying Birdsong for more than 20 years, but this year was different. There was so much more quiet that you could still hear them at a greater distance. She and her team looked at recordings they had of white crowned sparrows. They live in San Francisco. This is how they sounded in 2016 and this is how they sounded during the lock down of spring 2020. It's all thanks to the lack of noise pollution. The birds songs carried farther, with fewer cars in the way. The traffic is sort of a constant presence. Is this low hum? And it's a lot of energy at low frequencies, which are specifically overlapping arm asking these songs think of it like you're at a party. You talk louder so you can hear each other over the noise. But when the noise is gone, it wasn't that they were louder. You could just hear what Derry Berry said. Birds were like people were speaking the same language, just with different accents. Birds from Texas, Boston and good always Tennessee birds are gonna tweet just a little different. They learn their songs like we learn language, and so it's a really nice model for understanding how people learn how toe speak and communicate. So why does this matter? It shows nature could handle almost any change that comes its way. Animals are resilient. If you'd reduce noise pollution, they can respond really quickly. And that feels good tweeting. In Knoxville, I'm Shannon Smith.