Music of Migration and Phenology: Listening to Counterpoints of Musk Ox and Caribou Migrations, and Cycles of Plant Growth

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Ballora, Mark
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This extended abstract describes a sonification that was commissioned by a biologist/animal ecologist. The sonification was created with the software synthesis program SuperCollider. The motivation for creating it was to pursue additional levels of engagement and immersion by supplementing the effects of visual plots, as well as to create an informative rendering of a multivariate dataset. The goal is for audiences, in particular students and laypeople, to readily understand (and hopefully find compelling) the phenomena being described. The approach is parameterbased, creating "sonic scatter plots" in the same manner as work described in earlier publications. The work described here is a current experimental project that takes a sonic approach to describing the interactions of plant phenology and animal migrations in Greenland. This area is seen as a predictor of how climate change may affect areas farther south. There is concern about the synchronicity of annual caribou migrations with the appearance of plant food sources, as warmer temperatures may cause plants to bloom earlier and in advance of the caribou arrival at their calving grounds; depleted food availability at calving time can lead to lower populations of caribou. Parts of this sonification will be applied to a multi-year professional development workshop for middle and high school science teachers. It is hoped that sonifications of plant observations made by teachers and students will enhance student engagement, and possibly lead to greater degrees of understanding of phenology patterns.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.