Perceiving the world as animals do

Photo credit: Pixabay

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

The pandemic, as I wrote earlier, allowed more people to focus on the pleasant environmental sounds around them. Many people are now able to sit in their back yards and listen to the birds and the wind blowing through the trees, instead of running inside due to frequent aircraft noises. I hope that listening to the sounds of nature heightens one’s interest in learning more about the sounds of species other than humans. 

The transcript “Soundscapes from the Insect World,” based on an interview with Ed Yong, science staff writer at The Atlantic, provides a greater incentive to learn more about the sounds of other species and plant life, as listeners are introduced to the sounds of insects as they move around on plants.

Biology professor Rex Cocroft records the sounds of treehoppers, insects who spend their lives moving about on plants. One would normally not be able to hear these treehoppers, but the plants are able to transmit the sounds. We learn from Cocroft that other insects are able to pick up the sounds as well. When someone listens to the soundscape of a treehopper on a single blade of grass, they will also hear the sound of a wren in the background.

Interestingly, Cocroft notes that treehoppers can pick up the sounds of humans, including loud equipment and vehicles. I wonder how pleased they are about these sounds. The treehoppers live in groups and their sounds allow them to interact and cooperate with each other, Cocroft said. This article also includes the sounds of caterpillars who “munch” on plants and how plants emit chemicals that protect them from caterpillars.  

Listeners will not only be learning about treehoppers, but may also become more aware of how important it is to protect our environment for all species and plants on our planet.  

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