Purdue ecologist Bryan Pijanowski gained
international attention for an Earth Day
effort last April to capture soundscapes
from citizen scientists. Now, he’s leading
a research center aimed at preserving the
sounds of Earth and highlighting their
bellwether role in alerting scientists to
environmental habitat changes by species.
Center for Global Soundscapes
Through the new Center for Global
Soundscapes in Purdue’s Discovery Park, the
forestry and natural resources professor and
his team examine how animals interact —
even across species — amid global habitat
modification. They also are developing
science-related K- 12 education curriculum
“There may be unique soundscapes around
the world that, through normal human
activities, could be lost forever,” he says.
“The environmental, social and economical
stakes are extremely high, because missing
or altered voices in our natural soundscapes
tend to indicate broader environmental
For the Record the Earth event on April 22,
Pijanowski partnered with international
collaborators and media to encourage
citizen-researchers to capture natural sound
recordings and upload them for preservation
during Earth Day 2014.
Nearly 3,000 natural sounds have been
uploaded from over 100 countries using
mobile apps for iPhone and Android devices.
The Discovery Park center also is
collaborating with partners at Purdue and
across the globe to advance the three-year-
old research field by:
• Producing an IMAX show combining
visual and acoustic elements recorded by
Pijanowski and his fellow researchers.
• Launching a series of education modules,
tablet course packs and online courses for
students in grades 5-7 and their teachers.
• Creating an iListen website that will
include links to related research, a
growing library of soundscape recordings,
and other tools for teaching and learning
more about the field.
Already, Pijanowski has a library of
500,000 natural recordings from sites in
Indiana, Costa Rica (La Selva Biological
Station), Sonoran Desert (Arizona), Borneo
(University of Brunei Darussalam Research
Station), Maine (from the Wells National
Estuarine Reserve) and elsewhere.
“All around us, at all times of the day
and night, animals from ants, elephants
and bats to baboons, lions and birds
are participating in orchestration, a key
measure of biodiversity,” Pijanowski says.
“We are using signals, like a detective, to
discover what these sounds are all about, to
identify species that we heard before and
are now silent, missing or moved on. I call
it the acoustic heritage of saving our planet.”
CAPTURING THE VANISHING
SOUNDS OF NATURE
Listen to the yard. One song
builds and one unravels.
Click on the QR code
with your mobile device
to listen to the sounds
of the rainforest, the
city and the desert at