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Collecting data on biodiversity in cities

Can animals tell us something about the city and how we can coexist? This is the question being asked by researchers from ACE who are monitoring wildlife on the Johanneberg campus. 

For a couple of weeks you will find strange gadgets in the trees on Chalmers campus Johanneberg; bioacoustic sensors that register and record sounds from birds and bats, among other animals. The animal sounds are being collected for a pilot study to investigate the relationship between the design of urban areas including urban green and biodiversity in cities.

The results of the study can among other things be used to guide urban planners when it comes to preserving and contributing to biodiversity in the city. Biodiversity is a key factor when transforming cities because it is a crucial eco system service and of high importance for people's well-being and health. 

–    Our cities need to expand or densify so that people have somewhere to live, but when we do this, we intrude in spaces inhabited by animals and plants. To support biodiversity, we therefore need to find ways for people and wildlife to co-exist. This pilot study is a step towards understanding the relationship between, on the one hand how, we place and design green spaces in our cities, how densely populated these areas are, how popular they are, and on the other hand how biodiverse these areas are," says Meta Berghauser Pont, Professor in Urban Morphology at the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering at Chalmers.

The collected animal sounds will be analysed using AI to detect and distinguish different animals and species based on their voicing frequency.  All sounds that are not relevant to the study, such as human sounds or sounds from vehicles, will be filtered out.

The technology and methodology to collect and register animal sounds has so far only been used in larger nature areas, and the aim of the pilot study is to test this in an urban environment. In the next step, the same type of sensors are planned to be placed in more locations in Gothenburg to investigate the relationship on a larger scale, and in areas with different conditions in terms of density and green qualities.

The pilot study is part of the project Expanding the application of Evidence-Based Design and Planning (EBDP) using comparative data models across different contexts within the framework of social-ecological urbanism, which in turn is part of the European Horizon project Twin2Expand, which involves researchers from Chalmers. 

Meta Berghauser Pont was interviewed in SR P4 Gothenburg March 6. 

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