Soundscapes

Bull elk bugles in front of a building
The natural soundscape of Greater Yellowstone includes elk bugling associated with mating.

NPS/Jim Peaco

 

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has many biological sounds with important ecological functions for reproduction and survival. Birds, mammals, amphibians, and insects often need to hear or produce sounds to attract mates, detect predators, find prey, and/or defend territories. The occurrence of sounds in a particular area forms the soundscape.

The natural soundscape of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem delights visitors during the fall elk rut, during birds’ spring choruses, along rushing streams, and in the still and profoundly quiet days and nights of winter. Natural soundscapes are a resource and are protected by National Park Service policies. Many park visitors come to national parks to enjoy serenity and solitude and expect to hear sounds of nature. Sounds associated with human activity, including road traffic, aircraft, and snowmobiles, often impact these natural soundscapes and are a source of growing concern. Aircraft noise, which is the most widespread human-caused sound in the park, is heard on average for less than 10 percent of the day. Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks initiated a soundscape monitoring program in 2003.

 

Resources

Ambrose, S, and S. Burson. 2004. Soundscape studies in National Parks. George Wright Forum 21:1 29–38.

National Park Service Air Resources Division

 
An eared grebe near Mammoth Hot Springs

Sound Library

Immerse yourself in the aural splendor of Yellowstone.

An elk bugles in front of white hot spring terraces

Subject Site: Natural Sounds

The natural and cultural sounds in parks awaken a sense of wonder that connects us to the qualities that define these special places.

Sunlight colors overhead clouds with yellows, golds, and pinks.

Subject Site: Air

Clean air helps people breathe easy and see far. It keeps our parks and planet healthy too!

Bison grazing in the grassy areas around a hot spring with snow covering part of the ground.

Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Yellowstone is the heart of one of the largest, nearly intact temperate-zones on Earth.

Last updated: August 15, 2019

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Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168

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