Protecting the soundscape: A partnership between a university and a land conservancy

Jonathan P Eiseman
Western Michigan University, Department of Biological Sciences
Jonathan is a MS student and graduate appointee in the Department of Biological Sciences at Western Michigan University (WMU), and studies soundscape ecology with his advisor, Dr. Sharon Gill, in the Sound Ecology Lab. He has an avid appreciation of all sounds—natural and synthetic—and has been recording and creating them his whole life. After earning his BA in environmental studies from DePaul University (2013), he immediately began building the largest long-term collection of soundscapes from Chicago’s lakefront habitats to study the relationship between dense urban centers and protected bird sanctuaries along the lakeshore. In 2015, he joined the Sound Ecology Lab at WMU for a pilot study of soundscapes across an urban-rural land use gradient in southwest Michigan and is analyzing the data set for his thesis. His hobbies are birding, music and listening when he is not studying in the lab or teaching undergraduate biology students.
Other presenters/researchers: 
Additional Contributors: Nate Fuller, Conservation and Stewardship Director, Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, Galesburg, MI; Dr. Sharon Gill, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI; Dr. Maarten Vonhof, Professor of Biological Sciences, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MIc

Soundscapes are inexorably linked to physical properties of an ecosystem as they contain valuable information regarding biodiversity, habitat quality and ecological processes. The acoustic resource thus becomes an important consideration for stakeholders whose quality of life can be influenced by certain sounds, and for conservationists invested in protecting rapidly declining ecosystems. Passive acoustic monitoring can be used to monitor biodiversity and develop conservation strategies; however, there remains a disconnect between the science and application. To begin to tackle this gap, we developed a partnership between university researchers and a land conservancy. We present preliminary findings from recordings taken at Chipman Preserve (Kalamazoo County, Michigan) over a 24-hour period in June of 2015. We explore acoustic patterns which vary over forest and grassland sites and record vocal species richness which increases as sample number increases. Finally, results of acoustic indices provide an explanation of the biodiversity found at this preserve.

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