1. Listening Workshops.
One of the core activities of our network will be the hosting of Ecosystem Listening Workshops designed to: (1) increase listening skills of ecologists and conservation biologists in order to improve research capability on soundscapes; (2) learn more about how humans use acoustics to perceive their surroundings so that society values protecting soundscapes. Teams of ecologists, acoustic ecologists, and psychoacousticians will visit five unique ecosystems over the course of the five year project. Ten network members and four Soundscape Fellows will travel to a site and join 3-6 local hosts for these listening workshops. We will attempt to select members that will attend these workshops so that there is a good balance of ecologists, social scientists, natural resource managers (generally part of the local host group) and acoustic ecologists. We also anticipate that members would travel to not more than three of these listening workshops (except PI Pijanowski who will attend all workshops). Workshops will be composed of a variety of outdoor, indoor and social events.
The listening workshops will be held in the Kenai Wildlife Refuge, Midwest Temperate Ecosystem, Sonoran Desert Region, Borneo Equatorial Rainforest, and Mediterranean Landscapes in Tuscany. For more details see the Workshop Locations page.
The listening workshops will have the following structure:
Field recordings will be made at each site by Pijanowski approximately 5 days prior to each Listening Workshop. A set of 3-5 automated Wildlife Acoustic sensors and data loggers will be placed in different microhabitats or in areas that have some human disturbance. Krause, a professional natural recording engineer, will work with Pijanowski using high-end recording gear to record various aspects of the soundscape (e.g., dawn chorus, dusk chorus, near field and far field recordings) that can be used for further scientific research and for use by the acoustic ecologist for their GSSN commissioned piece. These recordings will also be placed on our network portal for anyone to listen to, download and view soundscape metrics associated with each recording. We intend have the automated recorders deployed for about 10 days.
Because several of these sites present obvious hazards that will be addressed at the beginning of each workshop prior to listening exercises, we will incorporate hazards training into the workshops. The PI will work with local groups to prepare an Emergency Guide for each site. Hazards include encounters with dangerous animals (large carnivores, venomous animals), getting lost, vehicle breakdown, etc.
Outdoor Listening Exercises
Listening teams will visit several sites in each ecosystem, those that are relatively undisturbed and some that are disturbed, during dawn, dusk chorus and at night. We will experiment with different ways we can listen as a group and individually. Acoustic ecologists have experimented with several listening exercises and we intend to try these over the course of our project. One technique employed by acoustic ecologists is the head-together-as-a-star exercise where 4-8 people lay on their backs with their heads oriented toward the center; bodies are organized like a star. This allows people to listen but whisper comments so that everyone can hear. We will also try the listen-then- comment approach were members gather in a group and listen for long periods of time without speaking, moving and writing. Participants will be asked to listen for one hour as a group without speaking or writing. Participants will also be asked to listen in solitude. The group would travel to a location and then scatter a short distance and listen in solitude. After these intense listening periods, participants will then gather back at a central pointand discuss what they hear. Time will be given to take notes. Following the note taking, participants will listen again, integrating ideas and observations from other listeners. A third technique, soundwalks, will also be explored. These entail walking slowing, stopping to listen and observe. Soundwalks are useful when microhabitat structure has a great influence on local soundscape composition (e.g., low, closed canopies tend to dampen sounds). Experiences from these listening exercises will then be discussed during the conclave. How each discipline hears the soundscape will also be documented. Descriptions of these techniques will be developed and placed on our web portal.
A morning will be devoted to a hands-on exercise where one of the participants, most likely a member of the host team who is conducting long-term monitoring, will use data and tools to demonstrate how they analyze soundscape data. The workshop would ideally be conducted in a room full of computers.
At least one evening during the workshop will involve a social gathering where ecologists that play musical instruments will gather with acoustic ecologists for an open “jam session”. These jam sessions are designed to create a sense of community. Open “jam sessions” are common at the Ecological Society of America meetings, Resilience Alliance Conferences (e.g., Stockholm in 2008, Tempe in 2010), etc. and have been ways in which scientists share their creative talents with each other.
Lectures and Discussions
The workshops will also be composed of indoor lectures and discussions framed around the four GSSN Themes (Table 1). Each Soundscape Fellow will be assigned a Theme which they will be responsible for gathering information on during that Theme’s discussion. Another Soundscape Fellow will be asked to facilitate (with assistance from the PI) discussions. Mini-lectures by ecologists, acoustic ecologists, and psychologists will be given that help frame the ecological understanding of ecosystem dynamics, the composition of sounds in these ecosystems and how humans perceive these sounds. The PI will work with the four Soundscape Fellows to gather the notes from the workshop, synthesize the ideas which will then be posted these on the Theme Team web pages of the Network Portal.
2. Conservation Workshops
Two workshops will be held in the final two years of the project. A domestic workshop will be held at the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute in Missoula Montana. An international workshop will be held at the La Selva Biological Research Station in Costa Rica where Pijanowski is assisting the Conservation International TEAM project in the use of acoustics for rapid assessment of species loss in tropical habitats. The domestic workshop will involve (1) a guest keynote lecture by a person familiar (e.g., Dr. Nick Miller of HMMI) with high-level conflicts between a varietyof stakeholders (FAA, recreationists, conservation groups) occurring at National Parks; (2) presentations by natural resource agency staff on specific challenges of managing soundscapes in protected areas; (3) group discussions on soundscape sustainability issues. International workshop will focus on challenges presented in managing international locations. Faculty and students from Universidad Nacionale will attend and make presentations on their work in conservation. Local conservation groups will also be invited to attend and participate in discussions. Both workshops will attempt to address how traditional conservation planning approaches (e.g., Noss and Cooperrider 1994; Soulé and Sanjayan 1998; van Jaarsveld et al. 1998; Margules and Pressey 2000; Groves et al. 2002; Groom et al. 2006; Brooks et al. 2006; Lindenmayer and Hunter 2010) can be applied to the conservation of soundscapes. Sustainability and conservation of soundscapes from different perspectives will be presented and discussed at each workshop. The PI and other participants will write these outcomes and will submit this to PNAS Sustainability Science as a special issue with a collection of papers that describes sustainability of soundscapes from different perspectives. An overview paper will lay out a research agenda as well.