Science Diary: Acoustical Ecology – Ecosystem

Ambience: Spring Peepers

What do the sounds of a place tell us about it? That’s a question that they ask at Michigan State University’s Computational Ecology and Visualization Lab. Professor Stuart Gage recorded these sounds at a local wetlands area and they contain clues about the health of their ecosystem. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside.

“Usually in the early spring you hear frogs coming out of the marshy areas, and you might hear spring peepers for example first thing in the spring. That’s why they’re called spring peepers. And they’re a special icon of early spring in Michigan wetlands. And they tend to tell you, if there’s lots of sound coming out of a wetland, that that wetland is healthy and functioning and vibrant and alive.”

That’s because the sound of spring peepers is an indicator that parts of the ecosystem are thriving.

“Well, frogs have to eat stuff. And so that means that if frogs are there they’re going to be having to have insects, perhaps even mosquito larvae in the water that they use, or mosquitoes buzzing around so that they can have a food supply. So it tells you that there are different components of the ecosystem that are functioning. You can also tell that if there’s lots of spring peepers there, that the water’s not polluted. Because, you know, if there were oil or some kind of pollution or chemicals in the water, that the frogs wouldn’t be able to exist in that environment, so they wouldn’t be there. So you can tell, if you go to a wetland that’s not healthy, you’ll hear a very quiet wetland as opposed to one that’s healthy, you’ll hear it vibrant and full of singing frogs.”

Please check out our website, pulseplanet.com to read Stuart Gage’s blog, and participate in our listener challenge, or go on an audio adventure. Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Science Diary: Acoustical Ecology - Ecosystem

The sound of spring peepers chirping away can tell you about the health of a wetland.
Air Date:12/06/2007
Scientist:
Transcript:

Ambience: Spring Peepers

What do the sounds of a place tell us about it? That’s a question that they ask at Michigan State University’s Computational Ecology and Visualization Lab. Professor Stuart Gage recorded these sounds at a local wetlands area and they contain clues about the health of their ecosystem. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside.

“Usually in the early spring you hear frogs coming out of the marshy areas, and you might hear spring peepers for example first thing in the spring. That's why they're called spring peepers. And they're a special icon of early spring in Michigan wetlands. And they tend to tell you, if there's lots of sound coming out of a wetland, that that wetland is healthy and functioning and vibrant and alive.”

That’s because the sound of spring peepers is an indicator that parts of the ecosystem are thriving.

“Well, frogs have to eat stuff. And so that means that if frogs are there they're going to be having to have insects, perhaps even mosquito larvae in the water that they use, or mosquitoes buzzing around so that they can have a food supply. So it tells you that there are different components of the ecosystem that are functioning. You can also tell that if there's lots of spring peepers there, that the water's not polluted. Because, you know, if there were oil or some kind of pollution or chemicals in the water, that the frogs wouldn't be able to exist in that environment, so they wouldn't be there. So you can tell, if you go to a wetland that's not healthy, you'll hear a very quiet wetland as opposed to one that's healthy, you'll hear it vibrant and full of singing frogs.”

Please check out our website, pulseplanet.com to read Stuart Gage’s blog, and participate in our listener challenge, or go on an audio adventure. Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.