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Listen In: Acoustic Monitoring of Estuarine Communities Facing Ecosystem Change

listen in acoustic monitoring tool cover (Biggs, 2020)

Acoustic monitoring provides time-series data with a high temporal resolution to understand short-term variability and long-term change in aquatic ecosystems. Passive listening devices (hydrophones) record sounds at multiple levels of biological complexity, which can be used to investigate and monitor biodiversity, habitat utilization, species distributions, behaviors such as feeding and spawning, phenology, and anthropogenic noise. By monitoring these parameters, soundscape ecology has the potential to provide insight into the response and resilience of ecosystems, habitats, and individual species to rapidly changing environmental parameters, climate change, and human ocean use. By combining acoustic data with traditional environmental monitoring, scientists and managers can identify key habitats for protection and measure how ecological communities respond to environmental changes (e.g. storm events, coastal development, eutrophication) in a cost-effective and low-impact manner. In addition to providing information on biodiversity and population status, acoustic monitoring also provides information on ecological processes and habitat status.

About this resource

This tool provides an overview of acoustic monitoring in aquatic ecosystems, including sources of sound, metrics for measurement, data collection and analysis, and applications for habitat assessment, stewardship, and education.

Note: This resource includes embedded audio files which may require a PDF reader to function properly.


Biggs, CR, Montie, EW, Kimball, M, Dunn, R, Boswell K, Transue L. 2021. Listen In: Acoustic Monitoring of Estuarine Communities Facing Ecosystem Change. National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative. P 23.