Journal of Ecoacoustics

(ISSN: 2516-1466) Open Access Journal
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JEA 2020, 4(1), 2; doi: 10.35995/jea4010002

An Ecoacoustic Snapshot of a Subarctic Coastal Wilderness: Aialik Bay, Alaska 2019

1 Kenai Fjords National Park, U.S. National Park Service, P.O. Box 1727, Seward, Alaska, U.S.A.;
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 Jul 2020 / Revised: 23 Sep 2020 / Accepted: 11 Oct 2020 / Published: 30 Nov 2020
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I recorded the ambient sounds at three locations in the wilderness of Aialik Bay in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska between 25 June and 21 September 2019. My aim was to capture an ecoacoustic snapshot of the coastal soundscape to provide a comparable baseline for evaluating wilderness characteristics defined by the Wilderness Act of 1964. I visually and empirically characterized the Aialik Bay wilderness soundscape using the acoustic metrics of soundscape power (normalized watts/kHz) and Normalized Difference Soundscape Index (NDSI) from 5373 five-minute recordings, combined with visual and aural spectral examination of 4386 recordings. Soundscape power exhibited similar patterns across frequency intervals with sound sources primarily occurring in the low-frequency (1–2 kHz) and mid-frequency (2–5 kHz) intervals. Significant differences within frequency intervals between sites suggested the presence of distinct sonotopes. Low-frequency sounds were dominant across all three sites with peak soundscape power values across study days and 24 h timeframes attributed to wind and occasional periods of technophony emitted from commercial tour boats and private boating activities. Low-frequency geophony from wave action was ever present. Technophony exhibited some predictable patterns consistent with the timing of sightseeing boat tours. Peak values of soundscape power at mid-frequencies were attributed to the geophony of rain. Although biophonies were less common than geophonies, the choruses of songbirds were prevalent in July and promptly occurred daily between 0300 and 0600. Biophonies generally declined over the course of the day. All sites displayed negative NDSI values over most study days and consistently negative values over 24 h time frames, indicating a soundscape primarily influenced by low-frequency geophony and periods of technophony. However, NDSI values showed patterns and peaks similar to biophonies at mid-frequency intervals indicating biophony was still a notable contribution to this geophony-dominant soundscape. Despite the acoustic footprint of motorboat noise detected at all sample sites, the soundscape of the Aialik Bay wilderness was dominated by the natural sounds of geophony, biophony, and occasional periods of natural quiet indicative of a wilderness only partially impacted by technophony.
Keywords: Alaska; acoustic index; coastal; ecoacoustics; soundscape; wilderness
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
Mullet, T.C. An Ecoacoustic Snapshot of a Subarctic Coastal Wilderness: Aialik Bay, Alaska 2019. JEA 2020, 4, 2.
Mullet TC. An Ecoacoustic Snapshot of a Subarctic Coastal Wilderness: Aialik Bay, Alaska 2019. Journal of Ecoacoustics. 2020; 4(1):2.
Mullet, Timothy C. 2020. "An Ecoacoustic Snapshot of a Subarctic Coastal Wilderness: Aialik Bay, Alaska 2019." JEA 4, no. 1: 2.
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