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Sampling environmental acoustic recordings to determine bird species richness

Ecological Society of America
Publication Date
  • Acoustic Data Analysis
  • Acoustic Sensing
  • Biodiversity Monitoring
  • Sampling
  • Biology
  • Musicology
  • Physics


Acoustic sensors can be used to estimate species richness for vocal species such as birds. They can continuously and passively record large volumes of data over extended periods. These data must subsequently be analyzed to detect the presence of vocal species. Automated analysis of acoustic data for large numbers of species is complex and can be subject to high levels of false positive and false negative results. Manual analysis by experienced surveyors can produce accurate results; however the time and effort required to process even small volumes of data can make manual analysis prohibitive. This study examined the use of sampling methods to reduce the cost of analyzing large volumes of acoustic sensor data, while retaining high levels of species detection accuracy. Utilizing five days of manually analyzed acoustic sensor data from four sites, we examined a range of sampling frequencies and methods including random, stratified, and biologically informed. We found that randomly selecting 120 one-minute samples from the three hours immediately following dawn over five days of recordings, detected the highest number of species. On average, this method detected 62% of total species from 120 one-minute samples, compared to 34% of total species detected from traditional area search methods. Our results demonstrate that targeted sampling methods can provide an effective means for analyzing large volumes of acoustic sensor data efficiently and accurately. Development of automated and semi-automated techniques is required to assist in analyzing large volumes of acoustic sensor data. Read More:

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