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Frontiers of Biogeography

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Sonoric geography – addressing the silence of biogeography


In 2015, we called upon our colleagues to address a glaring oversight of a potentially transformative frontier in biogeography – the geography of sound (Lomolino et al. 2015).  Our purpose here is to lay the conceptual foundations, based on the fundamental unifying principles of biogeography, to guide the development of the nascent field of sonoric geography.  We define sonoric geography as an emerging subdiscipline of biogeography that attempts to discover and articulate patterns of geographic variation in the acoustic properties of biological communities and identify the underlying, causal explanations for those patterns.

We see at least two major benefits to this initiative.  First, it will advance the field of biogeography by expanding the spectrum of biological properties studied – demonstrating how the field’s fundamental, unifying principles can be applied to a novel component of biological diversity – sound and acoustic assemblages across the principal geographic dimensions (area, isolation, elevation/depth, and latitude).  Second, a research program in sonoric geography will, in synergism, advance the fields of soundscape ecology (Pijanowski et al. 2011, Slabbekoorn 2018) and acoustic ecology (Wrightson 2000) by integrating an explicit geographic context into their conceptual foundations, empirical investigations, and applications for conserving biological diversity, sensu lato—again, all this guided by the fundamental unifying principles of biogeography.

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