Soundscapes Pulse of the Parks
Ambience: Dawn Chorus, Mariposa Grove Yosemite (Dugan sound FX file 3NS110606 Yosemite MPG)
In 1999, the National Park Service recognized that along habitats and the plants and animals that inhabit them, the soundscape is to be considered an asset. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Dugan: Well, a soundscape gives you a snapshot of all the species that are making sounds in that particular area.
Engineer and inventor Dan Dugan has been recording natural soundscapes for over 20 years.
Dugan: I record soundscapes regularly in the national parks, which gives the Park Service an archive of what the soundscape was on a certain day, and gets repeated the next year and the next year. So it’s a way of monitoring the health of the soundscape.
They need to inventory their soundscapes to know what kind of natural sounds and human-made sounds they have in the park, and then they need to monitor that see to see if those factors are changing. And then they can plan what areas they want to preserve the natural sounds in, what areas they’re willing to sacrifice to human activities.
Human sounds can mask what animals need to hear, which is – each other for breeding, it’s prey, it’s hearing a predator approaching. And when there’s a jet flying over, something like that, this puts prey at risk and makes it hard for predators to hunt. There was recently a study done where the sound of a roadway was projected into a forest along a ridge. There wasn’t actually any road there, so they could turn it off and on with speakers. And they surveyed the activity of species around that artificial road sound, and they found, indeed, that it did move animals away.
We’ll hear more about soundscapes in future programs. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. You can hear this and previous programs on our podcast.