Wildlife Acoustics | Bioacoustic monitoring systems for research, science, industry and governments.

Tara Cahill

Tara Cahill
Community Cloud Forest Conservation

Agroforestry Ecosystems for Communities and Nature

The central highlands of Guatemala are stricken with a woeful combination of challenges ranging from extreme poverty, high infant and maternal mortality, and chronic malnutrition, high rates of illiteracy and resulting excessive rates of deforestation for agricultural land conversion. Deforestation is attributed to agricultural incursions by small holder farmers into forests. According to Tara Cahill, agroforestry; agriculture incorporating the cultivation and conservation of trees, can help families live better and could be a socio-environmental solution for the region. But Linda wondered whether agroforestry can enhance the environmental health already degraded or deforested landscape and can it reduce agricultural incursions into existing forests.

Tara and the Community Cloud Forest Conservation will set about monitoring agroecosystems using Song Meter acoustic recorders to collect vocalizations and Kaleidoscope Pro software to analyze the data.

Song Meters will be deployed across agroforestry plots to sample bioacoustic activity. Duplicate parcels will be selected for high crop diversity and low crop diversity to enable comparisons of wildlife habitat use, measured in terms of vocalizations, between the two agricultural practices. The data will be collected year round with special attention given to identifiable avian and amphibian vocalizations.

Kaleidoscope Pro will be used to conduct a cluster analysis of vocalizations and those clusters will be turned into species classifiers with a special emphasis on avian and amphibian taxa. These data will analyzed to determine species presence and absence, species richness, and species vocalization frequencies. Comparisons between agroforestry and monoculture parcels will be conducted.

Research results will be used to guide agroforestry approaches in the region, allowing for science-based decision making and to build trust among land holders and agroforestry practitioners.

Morgan Hughes

Morgan Hughes
Birmingham and Black Country Bat Group

Urban Bat Project

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The conservation status of urban bats is little-understood and there is a lack of research regarding the movements of bats in urban fringe or green belt landscapes.

Morgan and the Birmingham and Black Country (BBC) Bat Group has spent years observing and collecting data on where bats gather in these transition zones. Her team will be using the bat call data to get a better understanding of how bats are moving between sites. For instance, are they using railways, canals orhedgerows? Which species use which routes? How much of a barrier is caused by artificial lighting and urban development? Are some species more vulnerable to these factors than others?

Using a detailed distribution map of the West Midlands, UK, Birmingham and Black Country, Morgan and her team of Echo Meter Touch 2 PRO – equipped surveyors will spread out along key sites (e.g. footbridges crossing freight rail lines and canals) in the region to collect and analyze grid-referenced bat echolocation data. The data will be organized, analyzed and manually verified using Kaleidoscope Pro with bat auto-ID.

The project results will be submitted to landowners, licensors and sponsors to provide guidance on street lighting as well as provisioning for green corridors and dark routes for wildlife.

Jennie MacFarland

Jennie MacFarland
Tucson Audubon Society

Seasonal Study of Arizona Important Bird Areas

The Tucson Audubon Society has conducted extensive survey work on behalf of the Arizona Important Bird Areas program. There are 48 designated IBAs state-wide with the majority being in southeast Arizona, a well-known hotspot of bird diversity.

For years, the Arizona IBA program has relied on over 100 volunteers to conduct different types of surveys to gather bird data vital to the larger effort. This has worked well for both inventorying and monitoring tasks. As the program has grown in both scope and complexity of scientific inquiry, more questions have arisen about target species and refined timing that require data capture methodology that is either more advanced than our citizen science observational studies can provide, or requires more capacity in survey effort than is reasonable.

In 2017, Jennie and her team used a fleet of Song Meter SM4 acoustic recorders and SM3BAT ultrasonic recorders, owned by the Coronado National Forest, to record bird vocalization and bat echolocation call data on a joint project; that's where they discovered the value of bioacoustics research.

This upcoming season, TAS will employ the use of Kaleidoscope Pro, it's Cluster Analysis and bat auto-ID features to organize and analyze the 2017 data captured by Song Meters. She and her team plan to examine species diversity and abundance of migratory birds, bird and bat diversity and presence, and wintering use by target bird species at specific IBA sites. Just as important, the results will show that Important Bird Areas are vital to not only birds but other species, such as bats.

The findings will be shared with the Arizona Game and Fish Department and bat conservation partner organizations for continued execution and refinement of land management programs and the expansion of community outreach efforts and citizen science work.

Dr.Alan Harvey

Dr.Alan Harvey
Georgia Southern University

Combatting "nature deafness" with singing insects

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Georgia Southern University's Dr. Alan Harvey explains that field biology traditionally relies on visual identification skills, but auditory skills are also critical in observing wildlife and its habitats. These skills are not easily acquired; "plant blindness" may be a well-known phenomenon in budding biologists, but students actually have a much easier time learning to recognize plants than to identify even relatively distinctive calls or songs.

Dr. Harvey set out to create an ear training project for his students. Although early efforts focused on birds and anurans (frogs and toads), he suspects that singing insects (such as crickets, katydids, and cicadas) are better candidates for addressing "nature deafness." Diverse and abundant in south Georgia, their calls are distinctive and yet less complex than most bird songs. Also, insect calls occupy a higher register than most anurans calls, which are often difficult to distinguish from anthropogenic sounds in semi-urban settings.

Alan will deploy several Song Meter SM4 acoustic recorders in a variety of insect habitat areas across multiple seasons on the Georgia Southern University Statesboro campus. The call data will be organized and analyzed using Kaleidoscope Pro software. The professor and his team will use the audio files to help students identify the insects by ear, as well as create a means to introduce students to the process of conducting scientific research. They will develop a comprehensive profile of the singing insects on campus, which can help inform a development plan that protects campus biodiversity.