Landscape Ecology

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 817–831 | Cite as

Spatiotemporal analysis of an acoustic environment: interactions between landscape features and sounds

  • Antonios D. MazarisEmail author
  • Athanasios S. Kallimanis
  • George Chatzigianidis
  • Kimonas Papadimitriou
  • John D. Pantis
Research Article


So far landscape analysis meant analysis of the spatial pattern of land cover or land use. However, biological organisms do not perceive the landscape only as land cover or land use, but they use all their senses, in order to become familiar with and react to their surroundings. We analyzed the acoustic environment as an additional layer of spatial information in landscape analysis, shortening the monopoly of visual patterns as landscape descriptors. We recorded sounds from a rural protected area into seven categories based on their origin, and examined their spatiotemporal variability and their correlation with landscape characteristics. The sounds were distinguished as Foreground or Background sounds. Foreground sounds correspond to sharp sounds originating near the observer and usually are understood as signals of urgent information, triggering reactions; while background sounds carry information over longer distances and may be used as landmarks to help individuals find their bearing even in the absence of visual signs. We found that the acoustic environment varies both temporally and spatially reflecting anthropogenic, geophysical and biological activities. The spatial pattern of the background sounds correlates, to an extent, with the visually perceived landscape features, but it does not correlate with the spatial pattern of the foreground sounds, which do not correlate strongly with the landscape pattern. This spatial pattern mismatch between acoustic environment and landscape, along with the highly dynamic nature of the acoustic environment compared to the relatively static nature of the land cover and land use spatial pattern highlight a limitation of the classical landscape analysis, and expands our understanding of the cognitive landscape.


Soundscape Background sounds Foreground sounds Local scale variables Ecological modeling Acoustic similarity 



The authors would like to thank the researchers who have participated to the field work: (in alphabetical order) Dionysis Batzakis, Ioanna Etmektsogolou, Giorgos Frangiskos, Iordanis Houvardas, Nikos Kefalogiannis, Evagelia Drakou, Eleni Kotali, Hristos Koutsodimakis, Theodoros Lotis, Apostolos Loufopoulos, Filippos Theoharidis, Andreas Mniestis, Katerina Tzedaki and Nikos Valsamakis. This research is supported by the PYTHAGORAS project of the Operational Program for Education and Initial Vocational Training (EPEAEK) of the Hellenic Ministry of Education under the 3rd European Community Support Framework for Greece.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonios D. Mazaris
    • 1
    Email author
  • Athanasios S. Kallimanis
    • 2
  • George Chatzigianidis
    • 1
  • Kimonas Papadimitriou
    • 1
  • John D. Pantis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology, School of BiologyAristotle UniversityThessalonikiGreece
  2. 2.Department of Environmental and Natural Resources ManagementUniversity of IoanninaAgrinioGreece

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