Will We One Day Be Able To Hear Ecosystem Health? Soundscape Ecology Says Yes

silent nature photo

photo: Anglea Marie/Creative Commons

We've written about the multifaceted importance of silent places a number of times--that is places without excess human noise not actually dead silent--and here's a new spin on that: Researchers from Purdue University are at the forefront of creating a new scientific field that attempts to use sound to measure environmental changes. They're calling it soundscape ecology and say it could become important in detecting critical environmental changes.Associate professor Brian Pijanowski explains,

The dawn and dusk choruses of birds are very characteristic of a location. If the intensity or patterns of these choruses change, there is likely something causing that change. Ecologists have ignored how sound that emanates from an area can help determined what's happening to the ecosystem. (Science Codex)

So why are human-produced sounds bad?

Well we know that human noise can be a threat to marine life and can be a threat to land-based animals lives as well. But it goes beyond that.

Pijanowski notes that as human noise increases it drowns out sounds by other wildlife, replacing it with low and constant noise.

As we continue to become more and more urban, we get used to the urban sounds which are mostly just noise. We're so used to blocking out noise that we block out the natural sounds as well. If we disconnect with the sound of nature, will we continue to respect and sustain nature?

More on Quiet:
Preserving the Sound of Silence in Zion National Park
Should We Start Saving the Silence? Gordon Hempton Thinks So (Video)

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