Michel André
Author: Izael Miranha
2023

Michel André

Bioacoustic Engineer

Sounds of life

meet michel

Professor Michel André is a director at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, BarcelonaTech and its Laboratory of Applied Bioacoustics. His research involves the development of acoustic technologies to monitor biodiversity in aquatic and land ecosystems. Over the last 20 years, he has led numerous expeditions to deploy The Sense of Silence bioacoustics technology and monitor biodiversity in the Amazon, the Arctic, Antarctica, Africa and India. He founded LIDO, an international program to control noise pollution in marine environments that integrates over 150 acoustic observatories around the planet. He co-founded Project Providence to develop and implement a dynamic bioacoustics approach for the conservation of the Amazon rainforest. Mamirauá is the first natural reserve whose biodiversity is live monitored through multi-sensor nodes.

Sounds of life
Nominated by: Richard Wiese FN'89
Class of 2023 Location Barcelona
Author: Michel André

The rupture of man with nature could be dated to around 150,000 years ago when homo sapiens demonstrates his ability to conceptualize the abstract realm: since then, language intellectualises relationship with the wild world. How can the development of language be the cause of the current destruction of natural habitats and the loss of biodiversity? One sense that all forms of life share is the perception of sounds and vibrations. Sounds fulfill an essential biological function, maintaining a global dynamic balance on our planet. Nature in its broadest expression governs this natural acoustic balance, and this sound cohesion is intelligible to all living beings — except not anymore to humans. The development of our imagination, necessary for conceptualisation and thinking, has gradually dissolved this link with the natural world and dethroned our innate capacity to interpret its signals and communicate with other living beings. Together with our wilderness, we lost the sense associated with it.

“We are able to listen to nature and finally understand its needs because bioacoustics can connect us today as much with the oceans as in the heart of primary forests.”

- Michel André
Author: Heather Cruickshank

Bioacoustics is the science of the sound of life. It studies physiological processes of production and reception and also detects the factors that alter their exchange, such as noise pollution, what prevails today with disastrous consequences on the natural planetary balance. Our bioacoustics sensors pick up and interpret nature’s distress signals. They send us, loud and clear, a call for help for the conservation of biodiversity. Machine learning techniques allow us to process a quantity of data unthinkable a few years ago and to build patterns that already alert us to imbalances — and may one day bring us closer to this whole from which we extracted ourselves, nature. We are able to listen to nature and finally understand its needs because bioacoustics can connect us today as much with the oceans as in the heart of primary forests. On the reconnection with nature, to whom we turned our back from when we learned to speak, depends our future.

Author: Heather Cruickshank

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