Abstract

We introduce the idea of Synthetic Acoustic Ecology (SAC) as a vehicle for transdisciplinary investigation to develop methods and address open theoretical, applied and aesthetic questions in scientific and artistic disciplines of acoustic ecology. Ecoacoustics is an emerging science that investigates and interprets the ecological role of sound. It draws conceptually from, and is reinvigorating the related arts-humanities disciplines historically associated with acoustic ecology, which are concerned with sonically-mediated relationships between human beings and their environments. Both study the acoustic environment, or soundscape, as the literal and conceptual site of interaction of human and non-human organisms. However, no coherent theories exist to frame the ecological role of the soundscape, or to elucidate the evolutionary processes through which it is structured. Similarly there is a lack of appropriate computational methods to analyse the macro soundscape which hampers application in conservation. We propose that a sonically situated flavour of Alife evolutionary agent-based model could build a productive bridge between the art, science and technologies of acoustic ecological investigations to the benefit of all. As a first step, two simple models of the acoustic niche hypothesis are presented which are shown to exhibit emergence of complex spectro-temporal soundscape structures and adaptation to and recovery from noise pollution events. We discuss the potential of SAC as a lingua franca between empirical and theoretical ecoacoustics, and wider transdisciplinary research in ecoacoustic ecology.

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