Ecoacoustics is an emerging ecological discipline that investigates the role and the relevance of geophonic, biophonic and technophonic sounds in ecological processes.About the Journal
The boreal forest of Alberta, Canada is important breeding habitat for North American songbirds. Thousands of oil and gas wellsites exist in this region that have been actively reclaimed since the 1960s. Limited information exists on how songbirds respond to regeneration of wellsites following reclamation. Methods that provide spatially accurate data are required to determine impacts of these small disturbances characteristic of energy sector on songbirds. Acoustic localization can be used to determine singing locations, based on time of arrival differences of songs to an array of microphones. We used acoustic localization to determine the assemblage of songbirds on 12 reclaimed wellsites ranging from 7 to 49 years since reclamation, and how the similarity of this assemblage to 12 control mature forest sites (greater than 80 years old) changed with increasing canopy cover on the wellsite. Songbird community composition became more similar to mature forest as canopy cover increased on reclaimed wellsites. Results from this study suggest that wellsite reclamation practices are allowing for initial suitable vegetation recovery, however more research on the effectiveness of different strategies at promoting regeneration of wellsites and subsequent impact on songbird communities is required.
Biodiversity monitoring and assessment across a variety of gradients, could be achieved with the aid of the ecoacoustics discipline. Acoustic monitoring approaches can provide results regarding the species richness of birds, bats, frogs and insects including cicadas (Cicadoidea) and katydids (Tettigoniidae) with results similar to the ones provided by classical ecological methods (e.g. visual point count methods). The risk of extinction of several species has led to the creation of the Natura 2000 Network in the European Union’s territory. Greece provides a number of 202 Special Protection Areas (SPA’s) and 241 Sites of Community Importance (SCI), 239 of which are considered as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). The specific areas provide both, an opportunity for ecoacoustics practice and an opportunity for ecoacoustic research. Even though the specific field of ecology has proven to be a valuable biodiversity assessment tool, areas that provide a variety of ecoacoustic events are yet to be documented. The goal of the specific article is to highlight these special conservation areas and propose a monitoring network using the non-invasive approach of ecoacoustics. For the specific research, the Greek protected areas were visualized in order to highlight sonotopes and soundtopes worthy of future research. Finally, in order to highlight the neglected issue of background noise regarding conservation efforts, the Kalloni’s salt pans were selected as a case study area. Noise measurements and sound recordings were conducted. Furthermore, noise and sound maps were created, in order to visualize the effects of noise.
Soundscape analysis is a potentially powerful tool in ecosystem monitoring. Ecoacoustic metrics, including the Acoustic Complexity Index (ACI) and Acoustic Entropy (H), were originally developed for terrestrial ecosystems and are now increasingly being applied to investigate the biodiversity, habitat complexity and health of marine systems, with mixed results. To elucidate the efficacy of applying these metrics to marine soundscapes, their sensitivity to variations in call rate and call type were evaluated using a combination of field data and synthetic recordings. In soundscapes dominated by impulsive broadband snapping shrimp sounds, ACI increased non-linearly with increased snapping rate (∼100–3500 snaps/min), with a percent range of variation (∼40–50%) that exceeds that reported in most studies. H, however, decreased only slightly (∼0.04 units) in response to these same snap rate changes. The response of these metrics to changes in the rate of broadband snapping was not strongly influenced by the spectral resolution of the analysis. For soundscapes dominated by harmonic fish calls, increased rates of calling (∼5–120 calls/min) led to decreased ACI (∼20–40% range of variation) when coarse spectral resolutions (Δf = 94 or 47 Hz) were used in the analysis, but ACI increased (∼20% range of variation) when a finer resolution (Δf = 23 Hz) was employed. Regardless of spectral resolution used in the analysis, H decreased (∼0.20 units) in response to increased rates of harmonic calling. These results show that ACI and H can be modulated strongly by variations in the activity of a single sound-producing species, with additional sensitivity to call type and the resolution of the analysis. Variations in ACI and H, therefore, cannot be assumed to track call diversity, and the utility of these metrics as ecological indicators in marine environments may be limited.
In response to anthropogenic noise, many bird species adjust their song frequency, presumably to optimize song transmission and overcome noise masking. But the costs of song adjustments may outweigh the benefits during different stages of breeding, depending on the locations of potential receivers. Selection might favor unpaired males to alter their songs because they sing to attract females that may be widely dispersed, whereas paired males might not if mates and neighbors are primary receivers of their song. We hypothesized male house wrens (Troglodytes aedon) respond differently to noise depending on their pairing status. To test our hypothesis we synthesized pink noise, which mimics anthropogenic noise, and played it at three intensities in territories of paired and unpaired focal males. We recorded their songs and analyzed whether song structure varied with pairing status and noise treatment. To validate our study design, we tested whether noise playback affected measurement of spectral song traits and changed noise levels within territories of focal males. Consistent with our predictions, unpaired males sang differently than paired males, giving longer songs at higher rates. Contrary to predictions, paired males changed their songs by increasing peak frequency during high intensity noise playback, whereas unpaired males did not. If adjusting song frequency in noise is beneficial for long-distance communication we would have expected unpaired males to change their songs in response to noise. By adjusting song frequency, paired males reduce masking and produce a song that is easier to hear. However, if females prefer low frequency song, then unpaired males may be constrained by female preference. Alternatively, if noise adjustments are learned and vary with experience or quality, unpaired males in our study population may be younger, less experienced, or lower quality males.
We report on a simple and practical application of HARK, an easily available and portable system for bird song localization using an open-source software for robot audition HARK, to a deeper understanding of ecoacoustic dynamics of bird songs, focusing on a fine-scaled temporal analysis of song movement — song type dynamics in playback experiments. We extended HARKBird and constructed a system that enables us to conduct automatic playback and interactive experiments with different conditions, with a real-time recording and localization of sound sources. We investigate how playback of conspecific songs and playback patterns can affect vocalization of two types of songs and spatial movement of an individual of Japanese bush-warbler, showing quantitatively that there exist strong relationships between song type and spatial movement. We also simulated the ecoacoustic dynamics of the singing behavior of the focal individual using a software, termed Bird song explorer, which provides users a virtual experience of acoustic dynamics of bird songs using a 3D game platform Unity. Based on experimental results, we discuss how our approach can contribute to ecoacoustics in terms of two different roles of sounds: sounds as tools and subjects.
Ecoacoustics is a new discipline that investigates the ecological role of sounds. Ecoacoustics is a relevant field of research related to long-term monitoring, habitat health, biodiversity assessment, soundscape conservation and ecosystem management. Several life traits of the species, populations, communities, and landscapes/waterscapes may be described by ecoacoustics. Non-invasive programmable recording devices with on-board ecoacoustic metric calculations are efficient and powerful tools to investigate ecological systems. A set of processes in four [adaptive, behavioural, geographical, ecosemiotic] domains supports and guides the development of ecoacoustics. The first domain includes evolutionary mechanisms that join sound typology with the physical and biological characteristics of the environment and create frequency partitioning among species to reduce competition. The second domain addresses interspecific signals associated with geophysical and anthropogenic sounds that operate to shape temporary acoustic communities and orient species to select suitable acoustic habitats. The third domain pertains to the geography of sound, an entity composed of three subordinate acoustic objects: sonotopes, soundtopes, and sonotones, which are operationally delimited in a geographical and temporal space by the distribution of the ecoacoustic events. The ecoacoustic events allow the classification of complex configurations of acoustic signals and represent the grain of a soundscape mosaic. The fourth domain operates by ecosemiotic mechanisms within the species level according to a function-specific perception of the acoustic information facilitated by encoding processes.
Journal of Ecoacoustics E-ISSN: 2516-1466