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Bioacoustics in the Field (3 ECTS)


This ice breaker, one-week retreat will serve as a course induction. You will be exposed to basic knowledge on recording equipment, sound recording in the field and sound analysis. You will also choose and kick off your empirical project.

We will meet at the University Jean Monnet of Saint-Etienne (campus Metare, Faculté des Sciences) on Monday morning, 9 am. A bus (leaving at 10 am!) will bring us at noon to the field station La Maison de l’eau (Marlhes, 20 minutes from the campus, Regional Park of Pilat) where we will spend the whole week.

On the subsequent days, mornings will consist of introductory taught classes. Afternoon practical sessions, mostly outdoor, will be an opportunity to familiarise yourself with generic playback & recording equipment. Over the course of the week you will also be provided with a list of topics for your empirical projects. You will have the opportunity to form pairs and choose a project (see “empirical project” section for details of scope, organisation and assessment).

Guest Lectures by Profs Tecumseh Fitch & Dan Mennil

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Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, a successful student should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a basic understanding of how sound signals are produced, structured and perceived;

  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the acquisition / playback chain;

  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the representation and quantification of animal signals

  4. Demonstrate awareness of ethical issues and principles in bioacoustics studies.

2023 Schedule


Monday 11th September

Morning: Introduction session (during which the students will be presented with the objectives and organisation of the Masters' programme). Welcome lunch.

Afternoon: outdoor sessions (distribution of equipment kits and sound recordings walks) followed by an icebreaker session in the evening. 


Tuesday 12th September

Morning lecture: What is the field of Bioacoustics? Introduction / refresher to basic acoustics (what is sound, how it is produced, how it propagates and how it is perceived).

Afternoon practical: Learning to Record. Microphones, recorders & digitalisation theory.


Wednesday 13th September

Morning lecture:  Representing sound. An introduction to acoustic metrics (Decibels, Hz, etc) and basic signal processing. How to produce a spectrogram.

Afternoon: Sound propagation. Basic theory & field experiment followed by spectrographic analysis or re-recordings.

Evening: The International Bioacoustics Council (IBAC) and sounds Libraries (Nicolas Mathevon).

Thursday 14th September

Morning:  Project fair: presentation of empirical project titles by ENES staff, postgrads and postdo. Student discussion around projects.

Afternoon: Study time (projects, revisions etc.).

Friday 17th September

Morning:  An introduction to Ethics principles in animal and human Bioacoustics research, taught by David Reby . You will be provided with the form you need to fill-in in order to apply (internally) for ethical approval for your empirical project.

Early Afternoon: Exam (Multiple Choice Questions / 60 minutes).

Bus to St Etienne leaves at 3pm.


This module will be assessed by a 60-minutes, 40-questions MCQ.


Organizers and tutors

David Reby, Nicolas Mathevon, Frédéric Sèbe & Léo Papet.

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