Bioacoustics is a cross-disciplinary field that investigates the production and reception of sounds in animals. It delves into the questions of how and why animals communicate, the effects of anthropogenic factors on their communication and the aspects of animal behaviour. Biologists who specialise in this field also study the anatomical, neurological and physiological processes that help produce and perceive sound. Previously, technological limitations have prevented, to a great extent, the integration of bioacoustics in animal research. But now, with the advent of digital recorders and powerful portable computers, the merits of incorporating bioacoustics in animal research are plenty.
Scientists use microphones and parabolas in the field to collect sounds of animals and birds, which are then recorded digitally or analogically by sound recorders. The sounds are then represented graphically by spectrograms using sound analysis software.
Bioacoustics is used in a range of studies; from studying elusive animals that might be near impossible to physically encounter in the wild, to identifying species based on their calls, as the sounds produced by animals are generally species-specific. It can also be used to assess the level of human interference in an ecosystem and to map its biodiversity by capturing the sounds of flowing water, running car engines, rustling leaves and of course, the sounds made by all the living organisms. The possibilities of applying bioacoustics are thus endless, making it a field deserving extensive research. Now, you didn't think that the call of the common myna in your backyard had so much significance before, did you?