Natural sounds are an important part of the experience of being in wild places. Some sounds are gentle and we may not even notice them much in the background; think of the sounds of flowing water, bird songs, frogs, insects, the wind. Other sounds are dramatic, awe-inspiring; think of wolf howls or a glacier calving.
Natural sounds can be masked by human sounds such as engine noise (from cars, all-terrain vehicles, snowmachines, boats, and planes) and not only disturb our enjoyment of the natural world, but also disrupt natural ecosystems. Wildlife use sounds to communicate. Young vocalize to communicate with their mothers; calls are used to find mates; warning sounds are made to raise the alarm about predators. These sounds are important in both terrestrial systems as well as marine ecosystems (including underwater communication among whales, for example). The National Park Service documents and monitors soundscapes to ensure natural sounds are protected.
Learn more about the natural sounds program in the National Park Service and soundscapes in Denali and Alaska.