What is Ecoacoustics?
Ecoacoustics is a field that studies sounds from the soundscape at a broad range of spatial and temporal scales to answer questions related to biodiversity and the ecology of animal populations, communities, ecosystems and landscapes (Gasc, Pavoine, Lellouch, Grandcolas, & Sueur, 2015). A soundscape is defined as all sounds from the environment that originates from biological sources (biophony), geological sources (geophony) and anthropological sources (anthropophony) that can reach the human ear (Schafer, 1977; Krause, 1993; Pijanowski et al., 2011). Examples sounds included in biophony are those that come from animals, such as bird songs, frog choruses and insect chirps. Sounds that are included in geophony are wind, rain, waves, and others. Sounds that are included in anthropophony are those that come from human sources, such as sounds of traffic, mining areas, loud speakers, and others. The soundscape contains environmental sounds that are believed to be a cue of environmental and habitat health and also ecological systems and processes.
Ecoacoustics and Bioacoustics
One older field of studying sounds from animals, which has been around longer, and is closely related to Ecoacoustics, is Bioacoustics. Because Ecoacoustics is a new field, it is still commonly mistaken with Bioacoustics. However, Ecoacoustics is significantly different from Bioacoustics in its scope and scale of study. Ecoacoustics consider sound of being an indicator of ecological process, while bioacoustics studies the propagation of sound as signals from sender to receiver (Fletcher, 2004; Sueur & Farina, 2015). Another difference is the scope of study, Ecoacoustics use large spatial and temporal observations of sound data and also large scale ecological organizations, such as populations and community. This is possible due to the availability of recording devices that support continuous and simultaneous recording from various places. The recording can go up to durations of months and years. Bioacoustics on the other hand often focus on species and animal behaviour driven questions that require short duration recordings (Sueur & Farina, 2015).