Landscape Ecology

, Volume 26, Issue 9, pp 1257–1267 | Cite as

Avian soundscapes and cognitive landscapes: theory, application and ecological perspectives

  • Almo FarinaEmail author
  • Emanuele Lattanzi
  • Rachele Malavasi
  • Nadia Pieretti
  • Luigi Piccioli
Research Article


The soundscape is proposed as a phenomenological entity with which to investigate environmental complexity. In particular, the avian soundtope, which is defined as a place in which sound is intentionally structured by different bird species, is regarded as an agency acting to achieve several goals. In fact, the soundtope could be viewed as a special case of an eco-field used by birds, not only to establish territorial ownership and patrol an area but also as a means of locating and evaluating the availability of many other material and immaterial resources. The meaning of the multifaceted acoustic pattern produced by bird communities during the breeding season is discussed here under the acoustic niche hypothesis in terms of community coalescence and the permanent establishment of an inter-specific communication network. Furthermore, the spatial and temporal dimensions of a bird soundscape have also been analyzed and discussed in terms of their relationship with environmental proxies. A new Acoustic Complexity Index (ACI), coupled with the implementation (ACI plug-in) of a specific sound editor (WaveSurfer©), is proposed as a way of processing sound data efficiently, thus providing new opportunities to use the bird soundscape signature for landscape characterization and describing the ecological dynamics of long-term monitoring schemes.


Bird soundscape Eco-field Acoustic niche Soundtope Acoustic Complexity Index 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Almo Farina
    • 1
    Email author
  • Emanuele Lattanzi
    • 1
  • Rachele Malavasi
    • 1
  • Nadia Pieretti
    • 1
  • Luigi Piccioli
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Basic Sciences and FundamentsUrbino UniversityUrbinoItaly

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