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Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 12, 2012

What Nature’s Soundscapes Tell Us

The New York Times reported on how soundscapes (recording the sounds of an area) reveal what is happening in a habitat. An area may look the same but when the sounds of animals are missing or decreasing in density or diversity it reflects something significant and concerning has changed.

The article reports that soundscapes in nature come from three sources:

  • geophony, which includes all nonbiological natural sounds like wind or ocean waves
  • biophony, which embraces the biological, wild, nonhuman sounds that emanate from environments
  • anthrophony — man-made sounds.

As we study the destruction of native habitats it is important that we look at the impact of introduced sounds. When new sounds are introduced to an environment, they may compete with animals mating and territorial sounds. This disrupts their ability to attract mates and establish territory. One study of elk and wolves in the national parks found that when exposed to snowmobile sounds their levels of stress hormones increased.

Monitoring soundscapes is an important tool in telling us what is happening in nature. To learn more go to:  Listen to the Soundscape – NYTimes.com.

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