Wild Basin Acoustic Biodiversity Project
Dr. Amy Belaire, St. Edward's University, Wild Basin Creative Research Center, Austin, TX
Wild Basin is a 227-acre natural area that provides 3 miles of trails within a 10-minute drive of downtown Austin, Texas. Our biodiversity monitoring project began in early March 2017 to coincide with the avian breeding season in Austin, Texas. Our team this spring included three St. Edward's University student interns, Gabby Macias, Olivia Leos, and Anne-Marie Walker, who were advised and mentored by Dr. Amy Belaire.
The team set up the Wildlife Acoustics SongMeter SM4 units in a transect design within Wild Basin (Fig. 1). The transect began near the preserve boundary, which is adjacent to a major highway, and extended perpendicular to the highway and into the preserve along a riparian corridor (Bee Creek). Three SM4 units were set up approximately 300 meters apart along this transect line; a fourth SM4 unit was deployed to alternating locations during the breeding season to maximize detection of individual golden-cheeked warblers (a federally endangered songbird with breeding habitat in Wild Basin). We set a schedule for each unit to maximize detection of songbirds, with 1 hour of recording each day immediately after sunrise. We also recorded during night hours in attempt to detect frogs and toads in the surrounding riparian habitat. In addition to these recordings, we also used an iPad equipped with an auxiliary microphone to measure ambient anthropogenic noise levels (primarily from the adjacent highway) along the same transect.
Throughout the spring, our team documented and shared our progress with multiple blog posts that described the study design, installing units in the field, conducting regular measurements of anthropogenic noise levels, and running through preliminary analyses. Please see the following online links to review the updates:
- Calibrating the units in an anechoic chamber at University of Texas, February 20, 2017: Read the post
- Adventures in sound: field-testing the bioacoustic recorders and learning about spectrograms, March 2, 2017: Read the post
- Learning bird songs at Wild Basin, March 23, 2017: Read the post
- Study design for measuring sound, May 2, 2017: Read the post
- Using Kaleidoscope software to analyze bioacoustic recordings, May 6, 2017: Read the post