PHD Project

October 11, 2023

Exploring the ecology, functionality and biogeography of Amazonian soundscapes

Person with ladder in rainforest

The world’s rainforests are incredible reservoirs of biodiversity, holding over 60% of the world’s animal species and 67% of all tree species. While this remarkable diversity makes them a biologist’s paradise, it also makes them very difficult to study, and there are many fundamental knowledge gaps about how these ecosystems function across time and space.

Ecoacoustics is a rapidly growing discipline within ecology, and holds much promise for improving our understanding of ecosystems. Automated recording units and advances in analysis techniques such as machine learning and acoustic indices have vastly expanded how sound can be used to understand ecosystems. It is now possible to record in multiple locations at once, acquiring terabytes of sound data throughout both the day and night. We are also on the cusp of exciting developments, recording sounds in the soils, improving our understanding of sounds made by invertebrates, and linking soundscapes to ecosystem functioning.

This project will combine new soil soundscape recordings and data collection with a huge library of sound and other ecological data collected over multiple NERC grants.  The fieldwork will take place in the Brazilian Amazon, benefitting from established field sites coordinated by the supervisory team and a placement at a host institution in the heart of the Amazon basin.

The work is organised across three complementary work packages that (1) advance the nascent field of soil ecoacoustics, linking soil soundscapes with the abundance and composition of soil-dwelling fauna; (2) explore how above and below ground soundscapes are associated with measures of forest functioning; and (3) examine how the biogeography of soundscape complexity is predicted by forest structural complexity and large-scale drivers of biodiversity (climate, etc).


Candidates shall be good honours graduates in appropriate subject areas, of a recognised university or comparable university, or persons holding equivalent qualifications who show evidence of exceptional ability, or who have demonstrated their ability in graduate studies.

Email address for enquiries.  For further details please contact Prof. Jos Barlow