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We have created a new proposal on Area51 for a Stack Exchange site focusing on Bioacoustics. Bioacoustics is a multidisciplinary field focused on sounds produced by or affecting non-human animals, or how sound can be used to better understand animals and their environment. Technology has been rapidly developing for decades and has no intention of slowing down– and as our field continues to expand, our community needs a space to share our knowledge so that upcoming researchers can readily find answer to their questions. Creation of this site will improve efficiency for addressing common problems/questions, it will empower scientists and managers from underserved communities to use GOOD science, and it will facilitate equitable access to our science. While we have initiated the proposal with the experts who have devoted their lives to the study of bioacoustics, we want to embrace enthusiasts who wonder about dolphins or cicadas or coyotes or owls.

This site is different than Biology or Signal Processing or any other site. This site may include programming questions related to digital signal processing or physics questions related to sound propagation. This site may have questions about animal communication or estimating animal populations based on autonomous recorders. This site may have questions related to bird song in their backyard, or how they can build their own device to record bats. During this proposal we intend to define the scope of questions appropriate for the Bioacoustics Stack Exchange site.

We invite anyone with an interest in animal sounds or the effects of noise on animals to join our site and we encourage you to submit example questions you might hope this site would answer, and vote on questions you would like to see answered on this site.

How would YOU use this site??

Join Bioacoustics Stack Exchange Proposal on Area 51

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  • $\begingroup$ So this site will also cover questions on the auditory system (Neuroscience), Hearing aids and auditory implants (Biomed Engineering, ENT), signal processing/speech enhancement, echolocation/doppler/radar (Imaging) etc.? $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ @AliceD That is a good question! (1) this is for NON-HUMAN animals, and (2) we are in the DEFINE stage, so the community can decide what question are On/Off topic. So, we welcome any related questions as long as they are related to non-human animals, but I think we would be well served to have feedback from those who study humans! $\endgroup$
    – Shannon
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 16:25
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    $\begingroup$ Good luck! I do think that some sites have struggled a bit where their scope is already mostly covered by other sites (for example AI.SE has quite a bit of overlap with Stats and DataScience). How will this site distinguish itself from the collection of other SE sites that covers these topics? It's clear some of the examples would not be on-topic on Biology, for example, but does seem like they'd land on other existing SE sites. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ This may indeed be true. Our field includes physicists, animal behaviorists, ecologists, computer scientists, etc-- our single point of commonality is using sound as a tool to study these animals. With a community spread across so many disciplines, it is difficult to find answers to our questions. I know we have the community and the need-- the question is if they show enough consistent activity to support a site. As for excluding humans-- perhaps the democratic SE approach would be to post a question or two on the proposal and let the community decide, eh? I truly appreciate your input!! $\endgroup$
    – Shannon
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 20:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Shannon I certainly have some sympathy; I'm a neuroscientist, and while my discipline involves some biology, most of my day-to-day work is situated in signal processing, statistics, physics, occasionally a bit of psychology, and most of my actual work hours are spent programming. The problem is that most of these questions are best answered by experts in their respective disciplines, even those who have no experience in neuroscience. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 21:35
  • $\begingroup$ I think the Psychology & Neuroscience site already struggles a bit with its specificity; it's a better home for Psychology (which doesn't otherwise overlap with other sites, except a bit with Medical Sciences, which is itself in quite a tough place) than it is for Neuroscience (where the vast majority of neuroscience is just as on-topic here at Biology, and there are many cross-site duplicates). We do have the Bioinformatics site which expand on the scope of Biology to include programming questions in that area, but other questions of biology technique are perfectly allowable here. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause BTW... appreciate a moderators' eye on the proposal. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – Shannon
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 3:13

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In addition to the expected niche @BryanKrause alludes to in the comments, I wish to bring up the issue of too much specificity of your proposal in terms of reaching a certain critical mass for the site. Initially I posted all this as comments, but it became a bit cumbersome to read, so I took the liberty to write it up as an answer. If you wish a discussion on chat instead or prefer just comments, let me know. Anyway, to continue:

By excluding human research you have specified your niche a bit, yet it will eliminate a lot of questions. Also note Neuroscience is very much ontopic for Biology.SE, and specific focus of the just graduated Psych & Neurosci SE site. I don't want to be the doom thinker, but I think the overlap with other sites is substantial, yet the niche may be too tight, if this makes sense.

Would simply 'Acoustics.SE' not be a better idea? It's basically the coverage of the journal of the Acoustical Society of America (JASA), listed under the 'Physics' discipline in Thomson Reuters, yet it covers ENT and animal work as well. It will substantially broaden the scope and define it better, and I quote from the JASA site --

Subjects include:

  • Linear and nonlinear acoustics
  • Aeroacoustics
  • Underwater sound and acoustical oceanography
  • Ultrasonics and quantum acoustics
  • Architectural and structural acoustics and vibration
  • Speech, music, and noise
  • Psychology and physiology of hearing
  • Engineering acoustics, sound transducers, and measurements
  • Bioacoustics, animal bioacoustics, and bioresponse to vibration

The 4 topics in the end are basically what your current proposal would cover now I guess, which makes it a hard-to-define scope and limit the scope to a narrow niche. The above proposed scope may, and possibly will, potentially shift the focus away from Bio and more to Physics, but I guess that may be inevitable in the long run to reach enough people.

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    $\begingroup$ Good point. Perhaps after 2 weeks if community is not stepping up to the plate we will reconsider this approach. This is a giant field (these conferences are crazy!), but then again-- this is what tags are for. Appreciate the feedback! $\endgroup$
    – Shannon
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 20:42

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