Gianni Pavan





The International Society of Ecoacoustics and the organizing committee of the WEC wish to dedicate the 5th World Ecoacoustics Congress to our friend and colleague, Gianni Pavan.


Biographical note

by Claudio Fossati, University of Pavia, Italy 


English version

In the early 80s, he combined two passions, that of nature, likely inherited from Mario, and a passion for computer science. The field he delved into was the analysis of sounds. The subject was in its infancy, and this was always Gianni's strength. Being one of the pioneers of computer acoustics for scientific use, he had a wealth of invaluable knowledge. Thanks to this, he could always identify the weak points of any application and often solve or find a way around them. In 1989, he founded the Interdisciplinary Center of Bioacoustics and developed his analysis software, still highly valid today, even though the field has grown exponentially since. He never saw "competition" as such and was always ready to collaborate with anyone seeking his advice. His availability was total towards everyone, from the famous American university to the small group of swallow enthusiasts. That's why news of his passing spread worldwide instantly, and we received hundreds of messages.

Regarding his studies, he began with the analysis of bird sounds. At that time, a minute of vocalizations required hours of processing on special machines, like the Sonograph, then a piece of technology akin to a "moon landing," now an interesting museum piece. In the nineties, after a period of studying insects and thanks to funding from the former Ministry of Merchant Marine, which dealt with the sea, attention shifted to the underwater environment. The first research cruises, again with cutting-edge equipment (a hydrophone of military derivation towed behind), with the group that historically collaborated with him until the end (Manghi, Priano, Fossati), literally wrote pages of bioacoustics. At the time, it wasn't even known which animal made which sound. He worked tirelessly on his software, doing things that no one else did at the time. With no competitive spirit, Gianni and his group became "friends" with everyone. In the late nineties, exponential progress in the world of computers and important collaborations led him to travel the world. CIBRA was chosen as a reference for significant research programs by the US Navy, the NATO underwater research center in La Spezia. In those years, CIBRA, led by Gianni, had access to military laboratories where truly special skills were discovered. These were then put to good use in collaborations with the National Marine Fishery Service, ISPRA, ACCOBAMS, and many others. Gianni and the CIBRA group are the foundation of the Guidelines for the mitigation of underwater noise currently adopted by several countries worldwide. In that period, there were also special adventures, such as flights on antisubmarine planes and helicopters to search for sperm whales and whales. In the last period, he, along with his longtime collaborators, more friends than collaborators, ventured into a new field: the measurement of underwater noise and its impact. Until the last day, he generously remained a point of reference for many, from the renowned researcher to the student. And he will continue to be so for a long time.


Original Italian version

Nei primi anni 80 ha conuigato due passioni, quella della natura, probabilmente ereditata da Mario, con quella per l'informatica. E il campo su cui si è buttato è stato proprio quello dell'analisi dei suoni. La materia era agli albori, e questo è il punto di forza che ha sempre avuto Gianni. Essendo stato uno dei pionieri dell'acustica informatica per uso scientifico, aveva un bagaglio di conoscenze impagabile. Riusciva sempre, grazie a questo, a inquadrare tutti i lati deboli di qualsiasi applicazione e spessissimo a risolverli o trovare il modo di girarci intorno. Nel 1989 ha creato il Centro Interdisciplinare di Bioacustica, e ha scritto il suo software di analisi, ancora oggi estremamente valido, anche se ormai il settore è cresciuto esponenzialmente. La "concorrenza" non l'ha mai vista come tale, ed è sempre stato pronto a collaborare con chiunque gli chiedesse consiglio. La sua disponibilità è sempre stata totale nei confronti di tutti, dalla famosa Università americana al piccolo gruppo di appassionati di rondoni. E' per questo che alla sua scomparsa la notizia ha fatto il giro del modo in un istante e abbiamo ricevuto davvero centinaia di messaggi.

Per quanto riguarda i suoi studi, aveva cominciato con l'analisi del suono degli uccelli. Al tempo un minuto di vocalizzazioni richiedeva ore di elaborazione di macchine particolari, tipo il Sonograph, allora un pezzo di tecnologia da "sbarco sulla luna", oggi un interessante pezzo da museo. Negli anni novanta, dopo un periodo di studi sugli insetti e grazie a un finanziamento dell'allora Ministero della Marina Mercantile, che si occupava di mare, l'attenzione si è portata sull'ambito subacqueo. Le prime crociere di ricerca, di nuovo con strumentazione all'avanguardia (un idrofono trainato di derivazione militare), con il gruppo che poi ha collaborato con lui storicamente fino all'utimo (Manghi, Priano, Fossati) ha letteralmente scritto pagine di biocaustica. Al tempo non si sapeva neppure quale animale facesse quale suono. Lavorava incessantemente al suo software, facendo cose che nessuno al tempo faceva. Non avendo spirito competitivo, Gianni e il suo gruppo sono diventati "amici" di tutti. Sulla fine degli anni novanta, il progresso esponenziale nel mondo dei computer e collaborazioni importanti lo hanno portato a girare il mondo. Il CIBRA è stato scelto come riferimento per importanti programmi di ricerca dalla US Navy, dal centro di ricerca subacqueo della NATO di La Spezia. In quegli anni il CIBRA, Gianni in testa, ha avuto accesso a laboratori militari dove è stato possibile scoprire competenze davvero speciali. Che sono state poi messe a frutto per altre collaborazioni con il National Marine Fishery Service, l'ISPRA, ACCOBAMS e tanti altri. Gianni e il gruppo CIBRA sono alla base delle Linee Guida per la mitigazione del rumore subacqueo attualmente adottate da diversi paesi al mondo. In quel periodo ci sono state anche avventure davvero speciali, come voli su aerei ed elicotteri antisommergibile a crecare capodogli e balene. Nell'ultimo periodo si era buttato, sempre con i suoi collaboratori di sempre, amici più che collaboratori, in un nuovo settore: la misura del rumore subacqueo e del suo impatto. Fino all'ultimo giorno è stato generosamente un punto di riferimento per molti, dal famoso ricercatore allo studente. E lo rimarrà ancora per molto.


CV and Biography (ASESS, English) (English) (English) (ResearchGate, English):


Videos and interviews

  • Bioacoustics (3 minutes). Language: Italian.

  • 2021 Interview by Marco Presente, about him and his take on the emergence of ecoacustics (NatureSound, Italian and English):
  • Plenary session at the 2021 Ecoacoustics Congress (1.5 hours) of his ("Connecting bioacoustics to ecoacoustics to ecology. A new challenge for environmental monitoring and conservation through acoustics."). Language: English.

  • One of his last talks (“Marine Anthrophphony”; 45 minutes). Language: English.



Thank you for teaching us to listen, wrote those who knew him. For many, Gianni Pavan was not only an inspiring expert but also a friend. We all have nice stories with him to remember and to tell. His scientific reputation was exceptional, based on essential articles published in scientific revues and international conferences. He was always positive and motivated for scientific projects in bioacoustics. We miss him already, and we extend our condolences to his family and friends.”


Personal memories

We have lost a great in our field. Gianni, we will always remember your smile, your friendship, your way of getting along with absolutely everyone. That’s not to mention your professional accomplishments, founding CIBRA, organizing IBAC, presenting a DCL workshop, and all your research around the world. We will miss you.

 - Dave Mellinger, Pr Oregon State University, USA


Today we have lost a giant and a pioneer. We have lost someone who, outside of academic strategies, knew how to be enthusiastic about bioacoustics. We will miss you very much, Gianni Pavan.

 - Marco Gamba, PhD University of Torino, IT


Gianni, my dear friend, you gave us confidence to follow crazy ideas. You liked to take risks and to smile towards difficult situations, always with wisdom and perspicacity. You shared so generously your passion and your time. Hiking, jumping, jocking, recording, thinking, writing, teaching... We eternally thank you for your spirit, that will live with us, deep in our heart. We miss you so much.

 - Hervé Glotin, Pr University of Toulon, FR


We are saddened to learn about the sudden loss of beloved conservation scientist and bioacoustics pioneer Gianni Pavan. Gianni was a true wildlife advocate, widely respected throughout the international bioacoustics community. Gianni’s research on the impacts of anthropogenic noise pollution on marine wildlife, and resulting mitigation measures, are a true legacy. Our deepest condolences to Gianni’s family, friends, colleagues, and students. He will be sorely missed.

 - Wildlife Acoustics


Gianni, we will miss you as a friend and as a colleague.

 - Pascale Giraudet, Dr University of Toulon, FR


Today we lost a great human being and a great scientist. Thank you Prof. Gianni Pavan for introducing me to bioacoustics of marine mammals. RIP.

 - Lorenzo Gordigiani, PhD University of Siena, IT


Thank you for all you did as an engineer in bioacoustics, electronics, signal processing and pattern recognition. Very impressive. Your passion for cetaceans and for the marine environment was so inspiring. I will keep great memories about you, especially during the DCLDE conferences. I miss you already.

 - Olivier Adam, Pr University of Sorbonne, FR


Sad to hear about Gianni Pavan's untimely passing. A founder in bioacoustics research, he welcomed me to collaborate in Pavia about otters’ communication then special bibliography indexing, always in a friendly, professional way.

 - Claudio Gnoli, University of Pavia, IT


Bioacoustics has just lost a pillar. I remember all those IBAC conferences where you shared your passion for the latest sound analysis technologies. The conferences in Cogne and Pavia are such great memories! I will miss your good humour, your smile and your kindness.

 - Nicolas Mathevon, Pr University of Saint-Etienne, FR


Goodbye Gianni. There are many things I could say, but in the end the generosity and kind heartedness stand out above all else. It mattered not what side of the Atlantic we met, the smile, that in turn made me smile, was always present. Rest in peace.

 - Dave Moretti, Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC), USA