Wildlife Acoustics Blog

SM2+

Purdue HEMA lab pioneers field of Soundscape Ecology

Purdue HEMA lab pioneers field of Soundscape Ecology

Brian Pijanowski, Professor at Purdue University in Landscape Ecology, is pioneering the emerging field of Soundscape Ecology, and he's using Wildlife Acoustics SM2 Song Meters to do so. According to Pijanowski, sounds can oftentimes be the first indicators in a host of changes facing a habitat.

Like an acoustic fingerprint, each environment has its very own sonic signature, and that signature is bound to change with changes in its diversity. Using these aural snapshots, scientists are able to see what's happening in a landscape over time. At first glance, it might seem obvious to track the sounds in an environment as a gauge of biodiversity and ecological impact.

“Over increasingly large areas of the United States, Spring now comes unheralded by the return of the birds, and the early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song.”
       – Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Birds pass along secret code to un-hatched chicks

Birds pass along secret code to un-hatched chicks

Before they even hatch, Superb Fairy Wren chicks are learning a secret code that means everything for their survival. The mothers of the chicks sing a special “password” note to their un-hatched chicks, which they must recite once hatched, in order to be fed. No password, no food.

It may seem a bit paranoid on the mother’s part, but there is a very good reason for them to be suspicious. That’s because Cuckoo birds have been known to secretly plant their eggs in Fairy Wren nests. Once the baby cuckoos hatch, they are fed and raised by the surrogate mother. The “pass-note” method then, helps the mother to distinguish which chicks are hers and which are cuckoos. The mother is thought to start singing the note about 10 days after the eggs are laid, giving the chicks just five days to learn it. Cuckoos often only have two days in the nest and therefore don’t have enough time to learn the note. This method isn’t quite foolproof, though. The mothers only catch the cuckoos around 40% of the time. Oftentimes the cuckoo chicks happen to sing the note by trying multiple calls.

Perhaps soon enough the Cuckoos will come up with a counter-strategy of their own for cracking the code. In the meantime, visit our website and learn how our Song Meter SM2+, accessories, Song Stream Remote Access Module and Song Scope software can make your bird call collection and analysis work faster and easier.

The SM2+ climbs aboard the Turanor PlanetSolar!

The SM2+ climbs aboard the Turanor PlanetSolar!

The world's largest solar powered boat, the Turanor PlanetSolar, is on a mission to spread the message of sustainable energy while investigating and raising public awareness about climate change. It is currently on it's 2013 DeepWater expedition, where the boat will travel along the Gulf Stream, collecting data from both water and air. We are pleased to announce that our very own SM2+ bioacoustics recorder will be traveling along with it. This past Friday, I went with our Product Manager, Sherwood Snyder, and Mona Doss, Director of Sales, to show the science team how to use the device which we had just donated to them.

Walking up to the PlanetSolar is like walking up to a spaceship floating on water. It looks nothing like any of the boats surrounding it. It is streamlined, futuristic, and absolutely breathtaking. Outside sat two large plants flanking the entryway, a gift the ship received from Monaco.

Once inside we were greeted by a few of the scientific crew members. We settled on the best place to put the the SM2+ and attached hydrophone and quickly showed them how simple it was to change batteries and SD cards.

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