Bioacoustics in the Field (week 1, 3 ECTS)


This ice breaker, one-week retreat will serve as a course induction. You will be exposed to basic knowledge on sound recording in the field and analysis with specific software; Kick off of the empirical projects.

Students and course organisers will meet at the University Jean Monnet of Saint-Etienne (campus 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 (or afternoon, depending on weather conditions) will consist of introductory taught classes.

Afternoon practical sessions will be an opportunity to familiarise yourself with generic recording equipment and to perform a full recording, editing, analysing, modifying & playback sequence. 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 groups (2-3 students) and to choose a project (see “empirical project” section for details of scope, organisation and assessment).

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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.

Provisionnal Schedule


Monday 13th September

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

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


Tuesday 14th September

Morning lecture: Introduction and refresher to bioacoustics (what is sound, how it is produced, how it propagates and how it is perceived). An introduction to acoustic metrics (Decibels, Hz, etc) and basic signal processing.

Afternoon practical: Propagation experiment.


Wednesday 15th September

Morning lecture:  The sound acquisition - playback chain (how to record and playback sounds)

Afternoon: Practical considerations for equipment selection (microphones, recorders, loudspeakers)

Late Afternoon : presentation of empirical project titles by ENES postgrads and postdocs.


Thursday 16th September

Morning:  student discussion around projects.

Afternoon: Sound Analysis software (downloading & installing key software).

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


Friday 17th September

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

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


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


Organizers and tutors

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