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Richard Moore Outdoor Report: Soundscape Ecology

Richard Moore Outdoor Report

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas — Stirring sounds of nature from morning chorus of bird song to thrilling howl of coyotes on the prowl are a welcome reprieve from noisy cacophony of man-made clamor.

Croaking frog’s signal last light of day, and the resounding roar of an amorous alligator fills late afternoon with primordial sound.

Nature’s landscape, from heavenly sunrises to fields of colorful wildflowers is visually stunning, but the soundscape of the natural world is equally alluring.

There is a new field of scientific research called soundscape ecology. Researchers use “nature’s music” to understand the ecological characteristics of a landscape.

The sounds of nature have long been linked with environmental quality, and in Rachel Carson’s seminal book, Silent Spring, published over half a century ago she revealed lack of bird song could be attributed to the deadly pesticide DDT that was ultimately banned.

Indeed, natural sound or the lack thereof has been referred to as the “canary in the coal mine,” warning us not of foul air in a mineshaft, but that diminishing of nature’s voice could be detrimental to human health.

New terminology refers to “biophony” as music created by wild creatures like birds. “Geophony” is the composition of non-biological sound like wind, rain and thunder. While “anthrophony” is the conglomeration of noise made by humans.”

Our South Texas soundscape is growing increasingly noisy with man-made sounds from exponential population growth. And, just as it is becoming increasingly difficult to savor the unobstructed view of our landscape, the natural soundscape is being silenced as well.

The soothing sounds of nature are a vital auditory link with our environment. And, with our growing “nature-deficit disorder,” we need the earth’s music for our psychological and spiritual wellbeing.

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