Chirps, whistles, croaks, and clicks all combine in an animal opera of high drama for eavesdropping scientists. The public can discover what animals are saying during the free program, “Listening to Animals,” at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 12, at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center at the Cheyenne Bottoms Refuge, northeast of Great Bend on K-156.
Mark Nolen, a professor of biology at Hutchinson Community College, will share information on the up-and-coming field of biology called bioacoustics, the study of animal communication and sound. Studying the sounds animals use to communicate provides a window into animal worlds and information on social interactions.
“Knowledge of bioacoustics in the environment enriches our experience in nature and adds a new dimension to our scientific understanding of biology and ecology,” said Nolen.
“The natural soundscape provides a non-invasive method for monitoring biodiversity, and it is a window into the complex breeding behaviors and social lives of animals,” he said.
Nolen also said that biologists are studying how the soundscape is an information resource for animals themselves — providing clues about food location, habitat quality and safety from predators in their chaotic environments.
This program will be a kickoff to the KWEC’s Cheyenne Bottoms FrogWatch year. FrogWatch is a citizen science program administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that enlists volunteers to monitor local frog and toad populations by listening for their calls. KWEC staff provide training and resources to volunteers to be able to identify local frogs and toads throughout the breeding season at Cheyenne Bottoms.
Attendees at the March 12, program do not have to participate in FrogWatch, but more information about FrogWatch will be available. If you are interested in participating in this year’s FrogWatch, call the KWEC for more information at 877-243-9268.