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  • Writer's picturekennedy829

New Article: Using Sound to Understand Migration

Jens Hegg, a recent Ph.D graduate in the lab, is lead author on an article published in Heliyon on Feb, 21st titled "The sound of migration: exploring data sonification as a means of interpreting multivariate salmon movement datasets."

The paper explores the use of data-to-sound transformations, called sonification, as a method for exploring data. These techniques can be effective means to convey complex data because of the unique ways the human ear is capable of distinguishing temporal changes within noisy, multivariate sound sources. This is in contrast to visual representations which become difficult to interpret quickly with increasing complexity.

The research is a collaboration with two composers, Jonathan Middleton (Eastern Washington University/University of Tampere Finland) and Ben Luca Robertson (University of Virginia). The team created a sonification of the otolith data for 45 fall Chinook salmon, then tested the ability of volunteers to interpret movements as the complexity of sound increased from one to three simultaneous fish datasets.

The results indicated that even untrained individuals were capable of interpreting when salmon moved between rivers, but that accuracy was higher using the aggregate of multiple listeners rather than individuals. Further, the addition of visuals increased the time it took for listeners to respond. This bolsters prior conclusions that sound alone can convey necessary information and visuals are often not beneficial in increasing the effectiveness of a sonification.

Listen to the video above using headphones. The sound is the sonification of the full dataset used to create the recently published study. Imagine yourself standing at the mouth of the Snake River, facing Lewiston and Clarkston. Fish in each colored river section are assigned to a unique chord. Fish in the Lower Snake River will be in your left ear. Fish in the Upper Snake River will be in your right ear. Fish in the Clearwater will be in the center. As they enter the ocean their sound becomes more washy and indistinct. The size of the colored dots represent the number of fish in each river.

This research has been covered by:

North Kittitas County Tribune

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