Naturalist Perspectives Ongoing Challenge: Soundscape Ecology

img_5195While spending time outdoors, you’ve likely taken note of a variety of natural and human-made sounds. If you decide to take on this challenge, it’s time to take a closer listen. Follow these instructions to take a soundscape ecology to one of the places you’ve recently visited. 

  1. Listen to the Weekend Edition story “Scientists Tune In To The ‘Voices Of The Landscape'” to get an brief introduction to soundscape ecology. Bonus: go deeper by also listening to the Science Friday segment “Listening To Wild Soundscapes” to find out more about how scientists work with the sounds of a landscape.
  2. Visit your Site Alpha, Beta or Gamma and listen carefully for no less than 15 minutes, noting down what you hear.
  3. Make a simple chart or list of high-frequency and low-frequency sounds with descriptions of each sound. What might these sounds tell you about the landscape? Are certain frequency ranges occupied by certain types of species? What might these sounds tell you about the biodiversity and ecology of the place you visited?
  4. Extra Credit: Take it to the next level by making a field recording (with your smartphone, laptop or other equipment) and analyzing it with software to more accurately determine the frequency ranges of the sounds in the landscape you visited.
  5. Extra Credit: Return to the same location at another time of day and repeat steps 2 and 3 (also 4 if you’d like to go high-tech). Then respond to these questions: What sounds are still present? Has anything about them changed (location, intensity, etc.)? What sounds did you hear this time that you didn’t hear before?
  6. Summarize your work on this challenge in a blog post.

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