Breakfast Lecture: Soundscape Indicators of Biodiversity, Ecosystem Function, and Human Influences in the Hudson River Watershed
Hudson River Watershed Alliance Watershed Breakfast Series
Featured Speaker: Aaron N. Rice, Principal Ecologist and Senior Research Associate, Center for Conservation Bioacoustics, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University
Sound is increasingly recognized as an important component of aquatic habitats. Many, if not most, fish species produce sounds as part of their life history, and similarly, a variety of environmental and human activities have acoustic influences on underwater habitats. By recording underwater sounds with specialized instrumentation, we can understand which fishes are active in particular habitats, when they are spawning, and how behavior and ecology of fishes is driven by abiotic or anthropogenic processes. Marine and estuarine habitats have long been the focus of most passive acoustic monitoring efforts; by comparison, the soundscapes of freshwater systems – particularly rivers and streams– have long been neglected. As part of a collaborative project between Cornell University, NYS DEC, and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, we are deploying hydrophones in various habitats along the main stem and tributaries of the Hudson River to understand its diversity of soundscapes. We have been looking at the acoustic patterns of protected or iconic species, the phenology of community assembly in different habitats, and how human use of the Hudson may impact the aquatic fauna. While our acoustic exploration of this dynamic ecosystem has just begun, we are quickly gaining insight into how bioacoustics can help us understand, manage and conserve the Hudson River.