Acoustic Ecology Lab highlighted by Arizona PBS

Small bird sits on plant with pink flowersThe Acoustic Ecology Lab at Arizona State University was recently featured in an episode of “Catalyst” by Arizona PBS. The episode focused on the work of Senior Sustainability Scholar Sabine Feisst and Senior Sustainability Scientist Garth Paine. “We want to understand the totality of our sonic environment: how our human-generated sounds interact with animal sounds, with the sound of wind and water — and how human-generated sound can perhaps have an unfavorable effect,” Feisst said in the video. Paine added: “Listening to the environment tells you a great deal about the ecology that’s present in a place, in a way that taking a picture or video just doesn’t.” The Acoustic Ecology Lab allowed musician Kyle Hoefer, a graduate student in ASU’s School of Arts, Media and Engineering, to make a connection between music and environmentalism. He is working on recording sound in Scottsdale's McDowell Sonoran Preserve so ecologists can listen and detect noise that might affect wildlife in the area. “In the desert, because we don’t have a lot of large plants and a lot of foliage to block the sounds out here, sound can travel extremely far, so when we look at developments in these areas we need to think about the aspect of sound and how it affects the animals and the species that live there,” Hoefer said in the episode. “We need to think about this constant rumbling from cars and planes, and we need to think about how certain species of animals communicate via sound.” Hoefer said he hopes that acoustic ecology work can help city planners and communities make informed decisions when it comes to developments that might affect wildlife. Watch the “Catalyst” episode to learn more about the Acoustic Ecology Lab.