A silent spring, or a new cacophony? Invasive plants as maestros of modern soundscapes

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Sound plays a key role in ecosystem function and is a defining part of how humans experience nature. In the seminal book Silent Spring (Carson 1962), Rachel Carson warned of the ecological and environmental harm of pesticide usage by envisioning a future without birdsong. Soundscapes, or the acoustic patterns of a landscape through space and time, encompass both biological and physical processes (Pijanowski et al. 2011). Yet, they are often an underappreciated element of the natural world and the ways in which it is perceived. Scientists are only beginning to quantify changes to soundscapes, largely in response to anthropogenic sounds, but soundscape alteration is likely linked to many dimensions of global change. For example, invasive non-native species (hereafter, invasive species) are near-ubiquitous members of ecosystems globally and threaten both natural and managed ecosystems at great expense. Their impacts to soundscapes may be an important, yet largely unknown, threat to ecosystems and the human and economic systems they support.