Biophony (also known as the niche hypothesis) consists of the Greek prefix, bio, meaning life, and the suffix, phon, meaning sound, is a neologism used to describe the collective sound that vocalizing animals create in each given environment. The term, coined by Bernie Krause, refers to one of three components of the soundscape, the others being geophony (non-biological natural sound) and anthropophony (human-induced noise).[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9] The interrelationship of disciplines informed by natural soundscapes is called soundscape ecology, a further refinement of the older model and term, acoustic ecology.

The study of biophony focuses on the collective impact of all sounds emanating from natural biological origins in a given habitat. The realm of study is focused on the intricate relationships – competitive and/or cooperative – generally between non-human biological sound sources taking into account seasonal variability, weather, and time of day or night, and climate change. It explores new definitions of animal territory as defined by biophony, and addresses changes in density, diversity, and richness of animal populations.

The complete absence of biophony or geophony in a given biome would be expressed as dysphonia (from the Greek meaning the inability to produce a proper collective voice in this case).

The "niche hypothesis," an early version of the term biophony, describes the acoustic bandwidth partitioning process that occurs in still-wild biomes by which non-human organisms adjust their vocalizations by frequency and time-shifting to compensate for vocal territory occupied by other vocal creatures. Thus each species evolves to establish and maintain its own acoustic bandwidth so that its voice is not masked. For instance, notable examples of clear partitioning and species discrimination can be found in the spectrograms derived from the biophonic recordings made in most uncompromised tropical and subtropical rain forests.

See also


  1. "The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World's Wild Places," Krause 2012, Little Brown
  2. Bernie Krause, "Anatomy of the Soundscape," Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, Vol. 56, No. 1/2, 2008 January/February
  3. Clive Thompson (19 May 2008). "How Man-Made Noise May Be Altering Earth's Ecology". Wired Magazine. Retrieved 31 May 2008.
  4. Almo Farina, Soundscape Ecology: Principals, Principles, Patterns, Methods, and Applications (Springer, 2014 edition), 6.
  5. Bernie Krause and Stuart Gage, SEKI Natural Soundscape Vital Signs Pilot Program Report: Testing Biophony as an Indicator of Habitat Fitness and Dynamics, National Park Service (3 February 2003), 2
  6. Bernie Krause, The Sound of a Damaged Habitat, New York Times Sunday Review, Opinion, August 29, 2012
  7. Joe Ferguson, Collaboration: Biophony, an Evolutionary Collaboration, SciArt in America, P. 36 - 42, June, 2015
  8. Bernie Krause, Voices of the Wild, Yale University Press, August, 2015
  9. Jeff Hull, The Noises of Nature, Idea Lab, New York Times Magazine, February 18, 2007

Further reading

  • Krause, Bernie (1998). Into a Wild Sanctuary. Berkeley, California: Heyday Books.
  • Krause, Bernie (2002). Wild Soundscapes: Discovering the Voice of the Natural World. Berkeley, California: Wilderness Press.
  • Krause, Bernie (31 January 2001). Loss of Natural Soundscape: Global Implications of Its Effect on Humans and Other Creatures. World Affairs Council, San Francisco, California.
  • Hull J (18 February 2007). "The Noises of Nature". Idea Lab. New York Times Magazine.
  • Krause B (2008). "Anatomy of the Soundscape". Journal of the Audio Engineering Society. 56 (1/2).
  • Sueur, Jérome, Cicada acoustic communication: potential sound partitioning in a multi species community from Mexico (Hemiptera: Cicadomorpha: Cicadidae), Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2002, 75, 379-394
  • Bernie Krause, Stuart H. Gage, Wooyeong Joo, Measuring and interpreting the temporal variability in the soundscape at four places in Sequoia National Park, Landscape Ecology, DOI 10.1007/s10980-011-9639-6, Aug. 2011,
  • Bryan C. Pijanowski, Luis J. Villanueva-Rivera, Sarah L. Dumyahn, Almo Farina, Bernie L. Krause, Brian M. Napoletano, Stuart H. Gage, and Nadia Pieretti,Soundscape Ecology: The Science of Sound in the Landscape, BioScience, March, 2011, Vol. 61 No. 3, 203-216
  • Krause, Bernie (2012). The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World's Wild Places. New York, New York: Little Brown.
  • Kull, Kalevi 2010. Ecosystems are made of semiosic bonds: Consortia, umwelten, biophony and ecological codes. Biosemiotics 3(3): 347–357.
  • Farina, Almo (2013). Soundscape Ecology: Principals, Patterns, Methods and Applications. Springer.
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