It has long been ignored how sound emanating from an environment can inform us on phenomena and events of an ecosystem but in the 70-ies Schafer already stated that “sounds are ecological properties of landscapes”. Only recently, a conceptual framework has been developed, defined as soundscape ecology (c.f., Pijanowski et al. 2011). Soundscape ecology is “the holistic combination of biological, geophysical and anthropogenic sounds that emanate from a landscape and which vary over space and time reflecting important ecosystem processes and human activities” (Pijanowski et al., 2011). Soundscape ecology thus emphasizes the characteristics of sounds and their spatio-temporal patterns to deduce their ecological significance (Schafer, 1977).
In the marine environment
soundscapes are generated by every source of vibration. It is a sum of the biophony, composed of sounds created by living organisms, the geophony comprising sounds from abiotic natural events and the anthropophony emitted by human activities (Krause, 1987; Pijanowski et al., 2011). Biophony contributors are marine mammals, many fish and invertebrate species that either produce sound voluntarily for communication, navigation, foraging, territory defence, habitat and mate choice (e.g., Moulton, 1957; Tavolga, 1971; Tyack and Clark, 2000) or involuntarily (Di Iorio et al. 2012). The geophony describes natural abiotic events such as rainfall and wind, ice movements, and geohazard events (e.g., Nystuen et al., 1993, MacAyeal et al., 2008, Goslin et al., 2005). The anthropophony combines a large spectrum of human activities, including shipping, sonars, marine construction, marine renewable energies (Hildebrand, 2009). The three components of a soundscape cover a large variety of frequencies and levels and can spread over ranges of several meters for faint, high frequency sounds to several thousands of kilometers for loud, low frequency ones (Urick, 1983).
Technical tasks on soundscape ecology consist in extracting information from marine soundscapes to study the phenomena of the three components as well as their interactions and patterns of variability.
Cited references: Pijanowski, B.; Villanueva-Rivera, L.; Dumyahn, S.; Farina, A.; Krause, B.; Napoletano, B.; Gage, S. & Pieretti, N. (2011), ‘Soundscape ecology: the science of sound in the landscape’, BioScience 61(3), 203–216. Schafer, R. M. (1977), ‘Tuning of the World’. Knopf. Krause B. (1987), ‘Bioacoustics, habitat ambience in ecological balance’. Whole Earth Review, 57: 14–18. Moulton, J. M. (1957). “Sound production in the spiny lobster Palinurus argus (Latreille),” Biol Bull 113, 286−295. Tavolga, W. (1971). “Sound production and detection ” in Fish Physiology, edited by W. S. Hoar, D. J. Randall, and F. P. Conte (Academic Press, New York). Tyack, P. L., and Clark, C. W. (2000). “Communication and acoustic behaviour of dolphins and whales,” in Hearing by whales and dolphins, edited by W. W. L. Au, A. N. Popper, and R. R. Fay (Springer-Verlag, New York), pp. 156-224. Di Iorio, L.; Gervaise, C.; Jaud, V.; Robson, A. & Chauvaud, L. (2012), ‘Hydrophone detects cracking sounds: Non-intrusive monitoring of bivalve movement’, Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 432, 9–16. Nystuen, J. A.; McGlothin, C. C. & Cook, M. S. (1993), ‘The underwater sound generated by heavy rainfall’, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 93(6), 3169-3177. MacAyeal, D.; Okal, E.; Aster, R. & Bassis, J. (2008), ‘Seismic and hydroacoustic tremor generated by colliding icebergs’, J. Geophys. Res 113, F03011. Goslin, J.; Martin, C.; Perrot, J.; Royer, J.; Dziak, R.; Fowler, M.; Fox, C.; Haxel, J.; Matsumoto, H.; Lourenço, N. & others (2005), ‘Acoustic monitoring of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge north of the Azores: preliminary results of the SIRENA experiment’, INTERRIDGE NEWS, 9. Hildebrand, J. (2009), ‘Anthropogenic and natural sources of ambient noise in the ocean’, Marine Ecology Progress Series 395, 5–20 Urick, R. (1983), ‘Principles of underwater acoustics’, McGraw-Hill, New York.