Wildlife Acoustics Blog

in the field

Listening for Signs of Life: A case study on using acoustic monitoring to assess remote seabird populations

Biologist Luke Halpin

Biologist Luke Halpin:

“My research takes place in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida. Heritage Site in Haida Gwaii, an island archipelago off the west coast of British Columbia, 80km west of Prince Rupert. Haida Gwaii is home to 1.5 million breeding seabirds, including 50% of the global Ancient Murrelet population and large nesting populations of several other seabird species. Haida Gwaii is the only breeding location for Ancient Murrelets in Canada.

On Haida Gwaii, invasive rats are a major threat to the conservation of these seabird populations. In 2010, Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site began a large rat-eradication project called Night Birds Returning (SGin Xaana Sdiihltl’lxa, in the Haida Language) on a number of islands. As a component of this project, I used Song Meters to explore presence and relative abundance of four seabird species on rat-infested and rat-free islands. The species I examined, in collaboration with Dr Carita Bergman, Terrestrial Ecologist in the Parks Canada Agency, includes Ancient Murrelets Synthliboramphus antiquus, Cassin’s Auklets Ptychoramphus aleuticus, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels Oceanodroma furcata and Leach’s Storm-Petrels Oceanodroma leucorhoa."

Research Process

“I used the Song Meter acoustic data to assess the effect of rat presence on relative abundance of these nocturnal seabirds. I examined relative abundance and the seasonal colony attendance period from presence and absence data derived from the Song Meter acoustic recordings.

Join the Global Soundscapes Project and Record the Earth!

Join the Global Soundscapes Project and Record the Earth!

Listening is the most important thing we do at Wildlife Acoustics and Dr. Bryan C. Pijanowski feels the same way.

Dr. Pijanowski had been on a quest to document soundscapes from all over the world, and for good reason; he points out that sound can be one of the first critical indicators of change in an environment. The new field of Soundscape Ecology that Pijanowski has become immersed in is primarily about what sounds can tell people about a given area. But he knew his passion could only carry him so far as he can only be in one place at a time. That’s when the idea of crowd sourcing his project came to be.

He recently launched the Global Soundscapes project, with the aim to have people from all over the world record as many ecosystems as possible by Earth Day 2014. And though Earth Day has come and gone, the project is still going strong. So far, over 2,000 soundscapes have been recorded. The next goal is 3,000, and anyone with a smartphone can help Pijanowski make it happen.

SM2+ in the classroom: MARA Project

SM2+ in the classroom: MARA Project

In Maryland, a group of 1300 amateur scientists have teamed up to document species of amphibians and reptiles by using high tech acoustic monitoring devices and mapping technology. They’re the seventh graders of Calvert County School System and they’re an integral part of the Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas.

MARA is a five-year project created by the Natural History Society of Maryland and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to document the current distributions of amphibians and reptiles in the state. The information will be used as a baseline to determine future changes in distribution of herpetofauna. The project relies heavily on the participation of citizen scientists, such as the students of Calvert county, to report sightings and log locations of amphibians and reptiles.

Wildlife Acoustics SM2+ bioacoustics recorders are placed just outside of the schools to record amphibian vocalizations. Periodically, students listen back and analyze the vocalizations right in their classrooms. The location and identity of the species are then logged in the MARA database. They even have an impressive blog full of photos, stories, and updates called their Frog Blog.

Wildlife Acoustics is proud to support wildlife conservation efforts

Merlin Tuttle's Bat Conservation Bat Conservation International Bat Conservation Trust Wildlife Habitat Counsil