Sasso Fratino Integral Natural Reserve is a UNESCO heritage site (recognised in 2017) and forested area in the northern Apennines in Italy. People are prohibited from accessing the 800 ha site without permission, and this limiting of anthropogenic impact has made it an ideal location for Italy’s eco-acoustics researchers, some of whom are studying Sasso Fratino to develop an important reference database for comparing acoustic communities across ecological gradients.

Sonotopes and Eco-Acoustic Dynamics

Sasso Frantino Study. From  From Farina et al. 2021.
Three sampling plots in a recent study of Sasso Fratino. Image source: Farina et al. (2021) [image]. Retrieved 28 March 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1470160X20308669

Recent research by Farina et al. (2021) studies the temporal dynamics of acoustic ecologies in Sasso Fratino. Researchers used autonomous recorders to sample sound at regular intervals across the day and night in three locations, one control site outside the Integral Natural Reserve, and two within Sasso Fratino. The research found a higher number of distinct periods of sound or 'sonotopes' (for example, distinct dawn and dusk choruses) and a more organised soundscape dynamic in the two Sasso Fratino sites compared with the control site. The authors suggest that the old-growth, relatively undisturbed forest environment allows them to gain insight into how soniferous (sound-producing) species use particular temporal patterns to perceive and interact with their environments and meet physiological and ecological needs.

What does this acoustic dimension bring to understandings of the complex relational dynamics and temporal weavings of multispecies forest worlds? And what practices or technologies could be used to represent or engage with these worlds beyond scientific research communities?

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