SITE VISIT: Calls of the Wild

Science  06 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5391, pp. 1003
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5391.1003d

Howls, screams, whistles, and chirps haunt the Web site of the Interdisciplinary Center for Bioacoustics and Environmental Research (CIBRA), where experts piece together links between animal sounds and behavior. Based at the University of Pavia in northern Italy, the 3-year-old site brings together information on the hardware and software used to study bioacoustics, along with comprehensive overviews of insect, mammal, and fish communication. And colorful spectrograms—visual analyses of a sound's composition—are provided alongside sketches of the animals.

CIBRA's research focus is on underwater marine creatures—the center even has a contract with the Italian Navy to use its instruments and ships for study purposes—so it's no surprise that its finest pages detail work in this field. The main goal of the site, says Gianni Pavan, the ecologist who created it and who oversees bioacoustics research at Pavia, is to provide information on the challenges of studying bioacoustics in marine animals, which are both difficult to observe and to hear. But although many animals' migration and mating patterns might still puzzle scientists, their calls, be it beluga or otter, come to life at

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