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International Bioacoustics Council (IBAC)

IBAC's history







IBAC was founded in Denmark in September 1969 "with the object of promoting international participation throughout the entire field of bioacoustic activity". Its lofty title "reflect the intention that it should act as a referendum for and generally help in any way possible those who are engaged in the scientific study of biological sounds".

The principal objectives of IBAC are:

(a) To maintain a forum for the development of standards in such areas as analytical measurement, descriptive terminology, recording technique and archival documentation.

(b) To continue the policy of setting up symposia with a sufficiently informal atmosphere with inexpensive accommodation to attract and encourage young students to present their first papers, posters, demonstrations etc.and also for the presentation and discussion of tentative ideas in early stages of development.

(c) To promote technical advancement and international co-operation within the field of recording, analysis and archiving through symposia and information exchange.

IBAC had its origins in earlier initiatives. The International Committee for Bioacoustics (ICBA) was founded in the USA in 1956, with Hubert and Mable Frings as its Chairman and Secretary. It was however unable to command sufficient administrative support to make it into a fully functioning organisation, and was soon moribund. In July 1967, Jean-Claude and Helen Roché in France founded the "Enregistrements et Etudes des Chants et Cris d’Oiseaux" (Institute ECHO). Its objectives were: the making of sound recordings, the scientific and musicological study of the recorded materials, the publication of printed or recorded documents; the organisation of research programmes, meetings and international conferences, the exchange of literature and recordings in the furtherance of research, and mounting scientific expeditions. It was governed by a small Council: Jean-Claude Henri Roché (secretary), Helene de Jurquet de la Salle (Treasurer), Philippe Lebreton, EDH Johnson (President), Sten Wahlstrom, and John Kirby (vice-President). In 1969, the scientific activities of Institute ECHO were separated to form the new IBAC, leaving the Institute to concentrate on the issuing of gramophone records, and IBAC became attached to the Århus lab in Denmark.

Looking back over the twenty-five years since those first ambitions were declared at the first IBAC meeting in Århus, one can report simply that it spawned fourteen international symposia in eight different countries and sponsored the publication of the news bulletin Biophon running to twenty-four issues. Biophon was the means by which IBAC members kept in contact and received news of impending conferences. Membership of IBAC and indeed Biophon itself was entirely free, the cost of production and mailing being born all those years by the Danish Natural Science Research Foundation.

Thus there was never any need to collect subscriptions or to encumber the executive committee with such impedimenta as a treasurer, accountant or auditor. An ideal institution, one would say. Unfortunately, the Danish economy took a downward turn in 1983 and our grant was terminated. The final issue of Biophon appeared in July that year but, with the help of mail shots put out by the National Sound Archive in London, we continued to hold conferences, the latest having taken place in October 1995 at Potsdam in Germany.

Subscribers to Biophon, numbering around 450 world-wide, were used as the sounding-board for planning the new, bigger and definitive journal Bioacoustics. IBAC will continue to support the journal in every way possible. The headquarters of IBAC for 25 years was the Natural History Museum at Århus, Denmark. From now it will transfer to the British Library Sound Archive (Wildlife Section), in London. Links with Århus will nevertheless survive strongly through the presence there of IBAC's President, Dr. Poul Bondesen and the very supportive efforts of Dr. Poul Hansen who hosted the 1994 IBAC symposium in Møls.

Patrick Sellar 1996
(IBAC Chairman 1969-1996, IBAC President 2005- )



Details of every past IBAC meeting since 1971 can be found here.



IBAC published 24 issues of the journal Biophon from 1971 to 1983, with funding from the Danish Rask-Ørsted Foundation. Biophon was to some extent a successor to the Bioacoustics Bulletin, published in the USA by the International Committee on Bioacoustics.

The journal Bioacoustics was launched in 1988 partly with the aim to fill the gap left by the cessation of Biophon. Although now an academic, peer-reviewed journal, Bioacoustics still publishes information about IBAC.

Two further issues of Biophon were produced in 1996-7, Vol. IX No. 1, and Vol. X No. 1. A complete set of Biophon is archived in The British Library for consultation by researchers.

Information about IBAC is now regularly issued in the Bioacoustics Journal, on various mailing lists and on web sites.