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Establishing a Natural Sound Monitoring Program

Sound is a significant component of ecosystems and plays an important role in how plants and animals interact with each other and with their surroundings. The field of soundscape ecology studies the overall ecological significance of sound in the landscape. Larger and smaller landscape-scale soundscape research is proving useful in determining relationships of soundscape elements and landscape components. The study of sound as an important property of ecosystems over longer periods of time and across large and small spatial areas allows for a more complete understanding of the role sound plays in the environment. Protection of acoustical environments has received growing attention from managers and policy makers as a result of an increased understanding of its role in overall ecosystem health. Natural sounds are vital to the natural functioning of preserve/park ecosystems. Studies suggest that the acoustical environment is important to wildlife in a number of ways including: • Intra-species communication • Territory establishment, finding desirable habitat • Courtship and mating • Nurturing and protecting young • Predation and predator avoidance • Effective use of habitat

Emerging research is finding that when technophony (sound produced by machines and technology) is introduced to a natural soundscape, significant changes can occur in the environment which can be indicators of a degrading natural environment.

To establish a point of reference to note changes overtime in the environment, natural sound monitoring programs can be established to document the changes. This project would take the initial steps to establish such a monitoring program on the Inspiration Ridge Preserve, Homer, AK and begin to establish a baseline from which sound can be measured overtime.

This project is unique as it has never been done before in the Kachemak Bay and could be used as a model to document change in the Homer area and Kachemak State Park and Wilderness Park.

Funded by Alaska (June 2016)