The Voices of Nature: How and Why Animals Communicate wins the R.R. Hawkins Award

Congratulations to Nicolas Mathevon, whose book The Voices of Nature: How and Why Animals Communicate has been awarded the 2024 R.R. Hawkins Awardthe top prize among the Association of American Publisher’s (AAP) PROSE Awardsas well as the PROSE Award for Excellence in Biological and Life Sciences.

Praised for, “fascinating insights into animal communication” (Publishers Weekly), this “landmark…book” (Marc Bekoff, Psychology Today), takes readers on a thrilling tour through animal soundscape, ranging from the heat of the Amazon jungle to the icy Arctic. Along the way, Mathevon explains how the science of bioacoustics works to decipher the ways animals make and hear sounds, what information is encoded in these sound signals, and what this information is used for in daily life. The book reveals the amazing variety of animal vocalizations, describes how animals use sounds to express emotion, choose a mate, trick others, mark their territory, call for help, and much more, ultimately asking if what may seem like random chirps, squawks, and cries are actually signals that, like our human words, allow animals to carry on conversations with others.

In the press release announcing the 2024 Excellence and Hawkins winners, PROSE Chief Judge Nigel Fletcher-Jones, PhD writes that The Voices of Nature is “as inventive as it is trailblazing, combining accessible writing with a unique online audio tie-in to create a truly immersive experience. I have every confidence that this innovative approach will dramatically expand the understanding bioacoustics, and provide an invaluable tool for scholars and readers of all kinds.”

Princeton University Press Director Christie Henry adds, “Nicolas Mathevon entrusted to our team this extraordinary work, The Voices of Nature: How and Why Animals Communicate, which opens all of our senses to the ways in which sounds and communication shape culture, community and environment. It’s a thrill to amplify its impact with this award.”

Prior to the announcement of the R.R. Hawkins Award and Excellence Award, The Voices of Nature won the 2024 PROSE Award in Biological Sciences and was named one of Library Journal’s Best Science & Technology Books of 2023.

The annual R.R. Hawkins Award recognizes outstanding scholarly works, across all disciplines of the arts and sciences. This marks the second year in a row that a Princeton University Press book has received the honor, with Kimberly Kay Hoang’s Spiderweb Capitalism winning the 2023 award. In addition to the Hawkins Award, fifteen Princeton University Press books were honored as PROSE Award category winners and finalists this year. A full list can be found here.

About the Author

Nicolas Mathevon is Distinguished Professor of Neurosciences and Animal Behavior at the University of Saint-Etienne, senior member of the Institut universitaire de France, member of Academia Europaea, and president of the International Bioacoustics Society. He is also a former visiting Miller Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former visiting professor at Hunter College, City University of New York.

Read an interview with Nicolas Mathevon in PUP Ideas.