Classroom Resources: Not So Silent Spring

Not So Silent Spring

By Dawn Stover

January-March 2009 / Vol. 10 No. 1

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Discussion Questions

1.    Define the term soundscape. What is the soundscape of your classroom? Your home? The “ecosystem” in which you live?
2.    What background noise do you hear when people are not talking or otherwise making noise in your classroom? What non-human natural sounds do you hear? What non-human species might be affected by the human-induced noise in these areas?
3.    What is an acoustical niche? How might a better understanding of this concept affect our everyday actions?
4.    In this article, researchers hypothesize that human-induced noise may affect evolution, specifically in driving the evolution of new sub-species of birds. If some species can adapt to noises in this way, might human-induced noise be a good thing by increasing the amount of biodiversity on earth?
5.    Define “biophony” and “anthrophony.” Are there fundamental differences between them and, if so, what are these differences?

Websites for Further Information

•    Cornell Lab of Ornithology Bioacoustic Research Program

•    Right Whale Listening Network

•    Wild Sanctuary Archive of Natural Sound

•    US National Park Service natural sounds program

Bioacoustics in the News

•    A Listening Party for Nature (Wired, September 11, 2008)

•    Radio program “Pulse of the Planet” (updated regularly)

Peer-reviewed Literature (in addition to the citations listed in the article)

•    Schaub, A., J. Ostwald, and B.M. Siemers. 2008.  Foraging bats avoid noise. Journal of Experimental Biology 211(19): 3174-3180.

•    Smith, T.B., and L.S. Bernatchez.  2008. Evolutionary change in human-altered environments. Molecular Ecology 17(1): 1-8.

•    Warren, P.S., M. Katti, M. Ermann, and A. Brazel. 2006. Urban bioacoustics: it’s not just noise. Animal Behaviour  71: 491-502.

Key Concepts

•    Urban soundscapes
•    Acoustical niche
•    Bioacoustics

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