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[Slashdot] - Amid the Pandemic's Urban Quiet, a Song That Makes Sense

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"Every musician knows that when the performers can hear one another, the performance is always better than otherwise," writes Slashdot reader nightcats. "This principle applies in nature as well, and has been anecdotally witnessed amid the quiet imposed by COVID-19 on cities around the world. In San Francisco, behavioral ecologist Liz Derryberry has been able to deliver a dramatic scientific demonstration of the changes to the songs of the white-crowned sparrow amid the quiet of 2020." National Geographic reports: With most San Franciscans staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, she decided to seize an unprecedented opportunity to study how this small, scrappy songbird responded when human noises disappeared. By recording the species' calls among the abandoned streets of the Bay Area in the following months, Derryberry and colleagues have revealed that the shutdown dramatically improved the birds' calls, both in quality and efficiency. The research, published today in Science, is among the first to scientifically evaluate the effects of the pandemic on urban wildlife. It also adds to a burgeoning field of research into how the barrage of human-made noise has disrupted nature, from ships drowning out whale songs to automobile traffic jamming bat sonar.

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