Emerging directions in acoustic ecology – trends within Canada’s national protected areas system


  • Jeannette Theberge Parks Canada
  • Benjamin Dorsey


A survey of ecologists in Parks Canada’s protected area units (PAU) was conducted to understand the breadth of acoustic ecology applications, particularly current emphases, trends over the past 2 decades, and future trajectories. 87 acoustic projects, in 36 PAU, involve detection of species, monitoring of ecosystems, and to a smaller extent documentation of soundscape, anthropogenic noise and cultural sound. On average these PAU have >3 acoustic projects each; the longest project conducted for 18 years. Focus of projects has evolved across years (through birds, bats, marine, soundscape). 

Described are emerging directions in acoustic ecology evident in Canadian national PAU, including: enhancing research on most taxa (i.e., aquatic species); improving species detection to identify changing spatial-temporal patterns (e.g., climate, noise); documenting anthropogenic noise impact; comparative analysis of biodiversity changes in soundscapes; and increasing technique efficiencies (e.g., automated detection, broad scales). Acoustics could contribute to PAU research priorities (e.g., arthropod inventory, geophysical rate changes, fragmentation restoration, population dynamics), and objectives (e.g., societal wellbeing, cultural landscape). Needed is commitment to document metadata, secure long-term data storage, and contribute to Open Data to ensure future utility of acoustic information. We hope the identification of these emerging directions help formulate momentum and synergies between agencies.