In the forest, life is often heard before it’s seen. Hikers and hunters are familiar with the creature chorus: cicada trills and tree frog chirps, wood thrush rhythms and whip-poor-will chants. This unique blend of animal noises is what scientists call the forest soundscape. And listening carefully to the soundscape is sometimes the best way to determine whether a forest is healthy.
Deep inside the forest-wetlands of northern Wisconsin, Angela Waupochick is listening.
A PhD student in forest and wildlife ecology, Waupochick is among a growing number of scientists using a simple technique called bioacoustic monitoring to record forest soundscapes. The equipment they employ is relatively inexpensive and unobtrusive, but it can capture the sound signatures of all animals that are present — even the most elusive ones.