Stop, Hey, What’s that Sound?

A new book explains the importance of lending an ear to the wild.

August 26, 2015

John Carrel/FlickrPhoto: John Carrel/Flickr

Think of any type of habitat and you’ll probably first imagine what it looks like—the terrain, what kinds of plants grow in it, and which animals make it their home. But sometimes it’s the less tangible characteristics of a place that can speak volumes about its ecological health: sounds. No one understands that better than ecologist Bernie Krause, who has spent the last 45-odd years recording the soundscapes of more than 2,000 habitat types, both marine and terrestrial. Biophony unaltered by human activity, whether it's traffic, construction, or logging, is increasingly hard to come by. In his new book, Voices of the Wild: Animal Songs, Human Din, and the Call to Save Nature, which hit shelves yesterday, Krause explains the ecological and cultural importance of lending an ear to the wild.

The recordings below, a small sampling from Krause’s library, are examples of how humans bring the noise, and, all too often, the sound of silence. 

Sound 03: Lincoln Meadow, Sierra Nevada mountains, June 1988, biophony before selective logging
Sound 04: Lincoln Meadow, Sierra Nevada mountains, June 1989, biophony after selective logging
Sound 05: Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica, 1989, before clear cutting
Sound 06: Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica 1990, after clear cutting


onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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