Dr. Lindsey Swierk and Dr. Jennifer Tennessen, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Understanding amphibian responses to noisy suburban habitats
According to recent studies, one-third of amphibian species are threatened with extinction. Suburbanization and associated noise pollution can drive amphibian decline. Drs. Swierk and Tennessen will embark on a multi-year project, using Song Meter SM4 acoustic recorders to monitor entire seasons of frog chorusing behavior at suburban and forested ponds. Using both Song Scope and the new Kaleidoscope Pro 4 analysis software, the team will create song scapes to compare visual representations of ambient sounds, documenting chorus-wide interruptions and examining changes in chorus frequencies as adaptations to noisy suburban habitats.
This is important work as there is a shortage of research available addressing the effects of noise pollution on individual frog species and populations . The study will shed light on species' responses to changing environments and promote public awareness of amphibian conservation. The project will also be part of an urban/suburban conservation education experience for high school students in the Yale Peabody Museum's EVOLUTIONS After School Program.
Dr. Amy Belaire , St. Edward's University, Wild Basin Creative Research Center, Austin, TX
Wild Basin Acoustic Biodiversity Project
Wild Basin is a 227 acre natural area, located within a ten minute drive outside of Austin, TX. Dr. Belaire, Wild Basin staff, and a team of university student interns will deploy Song Meter SM4 acoustic recorders at Wild Basin to track changes in bird and anuran communities as the surrounding landscape becomes increasingly urbanized. Dr. Belaire's team will analyze the Song Meter SM4 data using Wildlife Acoustics' new Kaleidoscope Pro 4 software.
Project results will be shared with the scientific community through various publications. Just as important, the study and its methods will be shared with K-12 audiences and the general public in several different ways, including videos that share the process of acoustic data collection and analysis with local classrooms. Datasets will also be shared on the Wild Basin website as part of an educator/student virtual field station. Finally, using QR codes on Wild Basin trail markers, the roughly 10,000 (annual) visitors to the preserve may use their smart phones to learn about the collected vocalizations and interpretive information.
Cameron Brown, Save Tootgarook Swamp, Inc., Victoria, Australia
Australasian Bittern Project
The Australasian Bittern is a threatened species which is listed on the International Union for Conservation (ICUN) red data list as well as on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) as Endangered. Tootgarook Swamp is one of the few natural freshwater wetlands remaining on the Mornington Peninsula and serves as protective habitat for a species with an Australian population of less than 1000. The bittern is a highly cryptic and secretive species and last year's discovery of calling birds at the wetlands was a significant event. The most effective way to monitor bitterns is to listen for calling birds from evening through to dawn. Mr. Brown will use Kaleidoscope Pro 4 analysis software to detect the distinctive low-frequency booming call of the male bittern from the Song Meter recordings.
Since the call analysis is a critical indicator of the birds establishing breeding territories, the study results will be central to the protection of Bittern habitat and to the reversal of the bird's population decline. To that end, the survey will be shared with Birdlife Australia and the Save Tootgarook Swamp organization to seek further local government planning action, such as feral animal control.