Long Term Field Recording (LTFR) is a method for ecological sound recording as a part of long term ecological research (LTER) at the Coastal Futures Conservatory and Virginia Coast Reserve (VCR). Three approaches work together to offer a sonic profile of the evolving Virginia coast during these most precipitous times of rapid global warming.


Highly efficient battery-powered field recorders with large data cards are used to record stereo audio in high quality. The recorders are deployed at key research locations determined by the scientific projects at the VCR. These devices listen for barrier island change, coastal erosion, bird migrations, and monitor the sea grass and oyster reef restoration projects. The recorders are carefully calibrated to be able to record for several weeks at a time, at which point the data cards and batteries are changed. These long audio files are then transported to the Conservatory lab at UVA for archival and analysis.


The Conservatory assembled 40 field recording kits that are distributed to students and researchers engaged in projects at the Virginia shores. These short-use fixed-media recorders are primarily used for individual projects, but play a key role in the LTFR project. Short recordings offer point source insights into diverse audio features of the environment. They both strengthen the profile of the long-term and streaming sound devices and are a key part of our engagement with a wide range of scholars, scientists and artists.


We hope the LTFR method can provide a resource for those studying long term change at the Virginia Shores. The Virginia Coast Reserve is a UNESCO Biosphere and this soundscape project expands it, offering a comparative analysis between the transition zones, at the threshold of human influence, and the core zones that are uninhabited and offer pristine habitat for biodiversity.

Coastal Conservatory