Sound Archives and Media Specimens in the 21st Century
Pp. 462-485 (24)
Michael S. Webster and Gregory F. Budney
Audio recordings of birds and other animals, and also other forms of
‘biodiversity media’ (e.g., video recordings), capture the behavioral phenotype in ways
that traditional museum specimens cannot, and natural history audio/media archives
hold collections of recordings that span geography, time, and taxonomy. As such, these
recordings can be used for a broad range of studies in ecology, evolution, and animal
behavior, and newly developed tools for collecting and analyzing these recordings
promise to further increase that research potential. Moreover, the digital revolution has
made it easier than ever for high quality recordings to be collected and deposited in an
archive, opening the door for large-scale citizen science efforts. But this potential also
brings new challenges that must be met by the research community with regard to
digital standards and accessibility. We recommend that researchers and other recordists
deposit their materials in a suitable archive, that sound/media archives build strong
partnerships with other types of natural history collections, that these archives also
embrace technological advances to make their assets more accessible, and that archives
and acoustic researchers harness “the power of the crowd” through crowd-sourcing and
similar approaches. In doing so, sound archives and bioacoustic research will play an
ever-increasing role in understanding our natural world, including responses of natural
systems to human activities, in the 21st century.
Archival standards, Audio specimen, Conservation efforts,
Databasing, Environmental recording, Field recording equipment.
Macaulay Library, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA.