Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) is quickly gaining ground in ecological research, following global trends toward automated data collection and big data. Using unattended sound recording, PAM provides tools for long-term and cost-effective biodiversity monitoring. Still, the extent of the potential of this emerging method in terrestrial ecology is unknown. To quantify its application and guide future studies, we conducted a systematic review of terrestrial PAM, covering 460 articles published in 122 journals (1992–2018). During this period, PAM-related studies showed above a fifteenfold rise in publication and covered three developing phases: establishment, expansion, and consolidation. Overall, the research was mostly focused on bats (50%), occurred in northern temperate regions (65%), addressed activity patterns (25%), recorded at night (37%), used nonprogrammable recorders (61%), and performed manual acoustic analysis (58%), although their applications continue to diversify. The future agenda should include addressing the development of standardized procedures, automated analysis, and global initiatives to expand PAM to multiple taxa and regions.

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