Benchmarking the Anthropocene: Macroecological sound-landscapes

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Carsten Rahbek


University of Copenhagen


DKK 1,190,000




Strategic Grants


The project aims to use 10,000s of data generated by the on-going citizen science project “The Sound of Denmark” to provide the first scientific description and characteristic of the sound-landscape of an entire country. We aim to describe the spatial and temporal (seasonal variation) sound-landscape of biological sounds and compare in a spatio-temporal framework to anthropogenic sounds. The results will be used to propose a benchmark of Anthropocene changes across geographical space. Soundlandscapes have previously been studied at local scales – but never before at a national scale and never before with data that allows spatio-temporal comparative analyses of thousands of recorded soundlandscapes.


This project is about who we are as humans in a natural world and how we change the natural world of Earth, and how it may impact us. The project focuses on the non-geological changes that characterize the new epoch of the Anthropocene. It focuses on one of the more dramatic changes of the natural world – the change of large-scale sound-landscapes from being composed of biological (the sounds made by >10 million species of animals on Earth) and geophysical (e.g., wind and water) sounds, to an Earth where these natural sounds are being overpowered and dominated by human-induced sounds from machines (cars, trains, ships, manufacturing plant) and by the mere sounds of humans.


The project aim to use the 10,000s recordings of sound-landscapes by from The Sound of Denmark compiled by citizens to define a new research field of Macroecological Sound-landscape. I will do this by focusing on the spatial and temporal dynamics of sound sources, their natural and anthropogenic drivers, and the interactions of the three major sound sources (i.e., geophysical, biological and anthropogenic sounds – the sounds of the Anthropocene).

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