Acoustic Monitoring / Feed

Bioacoustic monitoring is one of our biggest and most active groups, with members collecting and analysing acoustic data from every type of wildlife, from birds and bats to big cats, and even reptiles!


Elephant communication translation

Good morning! I just came across this exciting elephant communication platform. It is from DSWT, utilizing decades of elephant...

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Wow, this would be amazing to continue on with the years of data I have from tigers! I understand their social lives are very different but it would be interesting to see what other species could be highlighted on a platform like this.

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Wolf detector prototype

Hi all, I've put together a first prototype for our wolf boxes - see the photo below.  The main components are: Raspberry Pi.  With a couple of status LEDs...

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Hi Arik

Did you already test it with wolves?? I would be very interested in learning your results as I am preparing some accustic monitoring of wolves for my PhD.

keeping in touch



Hi Nuno,

Still working on the design, and in particular the microphone technology so that we can be confident of detecting animals at long range.  Our current system using SM3s works well up to several kilometers.

Where are you planning to detect wolves?  Will you be at CSF next month?  We could talk more there.  But keep an eye on this thread and I'll post updates.



Hi guys, interesting discussion. As you may have read, we are developing an elephant-detector (to avoid HWC's). The technology we are using (neural networks)  can also be used to learn to recognize wolves automatically. If you have wolf-sound samples for us, we can create a classifier to automatically process your recordings. Alternatively we may be able to run the classifier in real-time on a RPi. But like you mentioned above, power consumption is an issue. Maybe less so if we can mount the sensor on a street light with car battery or something. What do you think?

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Comparing two sound wave files - for a conservation game

Hello sound experts We in the conservation games area are working on a game idea that would require the ability to compare two sound waves (no more than 3 seconds each) and see...

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Dynamic Time Warping is often used as a foundation.

Hey Gautam!

Could you share few sample files? I want to try out a couple algorithm and see if that's useful to you.



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Moonshots - Where will we be in five years?

Hello Community! Friendly moderator here. Things have been kind of slow around the board so I thought I would pop in and spark a conversation with all of you! We all know...

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Hi Courtney,

sounds are indeed a very interesting theme. If you ask me, it is one of the most underestimated senses, especially when we are talking about wildlife protection. People tend to make quite a lot of noices that distinguish them from animals ;-)

I am working on a prototype 'soundscape sensor'. The basic idea is to record all sounds at a particular location and calculate a kind of 'normalised' sound. This summary can then be used to listen to sounds that deviate from that. Could be chainsaws, gun shots, car engines, talking people, barking dogs, whatever. 

By feeding these sounds to rangers with local knowledge, or to a crowd (like Panthera is doing), the sensor's performance improves over time. 

Although we think our first prototype will be ready by the end of this year (recognizing one particular sound within an outdoor environment), subsequent steps are quite challenging. Especially when more than one or two sounds occur at the same time.

If you ask me where we will be in the next few years, I would say:

2017: recognizing any trained sound within a given field context (using a Raspberry)

2018: learning to distinguish compounded sounds (using a backend server)

2019:  idem, but then much more efficient, so we can run it on a Raspberry pi

Interested to help us to create this? 


Jan Kees

My moonshot would be increased used of DSP in underwater acoustic monitoring, to enable small arrays to filter out engine noise to look for vocalisations; statis reflections of exiting noise sources, and doppler reflections too. Heavyweight DSP might be enough to gauge the size of objects and a useful distance estimate too…

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Choosing a Journal for Publication

Hello All, I have been working on an article about my acoustic monitoring of wild tiger populations project. The biggest obstacle I have ran into is trying to decide which...

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Hi Courtney,

Jason mentioned some very good journals (and there are many more) that cover broad areas of research as indicated by the journal titles. Perhaps your paper might fit into any of them.

However, people can give you more focussed recommendations if you tell us what research questions you addressed. At this point we only know what kind of technology you used.

Is technology itself the main topic of your paper? Or are you reporting what you learned about tiger biology/ecology through using accoustic technology?



Hello Julia,

Apologies for the delay in response!

The objective of this study was to determine if unique acoustic patterns exist among Panthera tigris tigris individuals, and if sex (e.g. male vs. female) can be discriminated based on their vocalizations. We used Songmeter SM2's to record tigers then Raven Pro Analysis Software to analyze their vocalizations and identify which vocalization characteristics (e.g. min/max fundamental frequencies, call duration, etc) identified each tiger. 

The study was to establish what vocal cues we could use for future acoustic monitoring networks for Panthera tigris in the wild. 

Edit: I should also clarfiy this data was collected in ex-situ conditions with the implications of applying the gathered knowledge to in-situ conditions. 

Hello Courtney

My turn to apologies for delay. Your study sounds very interesting and potentially a valuable technique for future in-situ research. Seems it could indeed fit journals with a broad scope concerning wildlife ecology and conservation (including those mentioned earlier in this thread) and not narrowly limited to accoustics. I hope you are progressing towards publishing your work and I look forwarrd to reading it!

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Acoustic monitoring survey (WWF-UK)

Hi all, I'm new to WildLabs.  I work at University College London, and myself and a couple of colleagues are currently developing a WWF-UK best-practice...

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Hi Rory, 

Thanks for sharing this survey - it'll be really interesting to hear what comes out of it. How are the results going so far? Has anything unexpected come up?



Hi Steph,

All's going well with the survey so far, thanks, though if anyone here has the time and inclination to share it further across their networks that'd be greatly appreciated - we've got quite a bit of feedback so far from members of the scientific community (and would like more!) but proportionally much fewer from the NGO/consulting sectors, which would also be really helpful.

That said, the results so far have been really useful. We've had some great, in-depth responses about experiences deploying acoustic equipment in a range of different environments, but also the responses have emphasised that many of the problems/challenges we've experienced in our lab group are common to almost everyone working in acoustic monitoring, regardless of environments/species of interest - the kind of info that's really useful for the report that will come out of this.


Great survey idea, Rory! I am completing it for my organization now so you should see another form input shortly.

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Acoustic monitoring for locating wolf packs

We currently use expensive Wildlife Acoustics SM3s to triangulate the position of howling wolves in Yellowstone National Park.  But we want to be able to deploy large numbers...

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Greetings everyone,

I apologize for being somewhat absent in this thread as of late. But, I am very interested in this conversation regarding building a recorder with a decent localization platform (including the sound detection for gunshots!). If the discussion continues outside of this thread (i.e. an email chain), please include me in it as well! I can provide my email through private message.


Hello all- When there are future updates with this project, please do continue to post them to this thread as it progresses. Thanks! The community would love to see updates.

For those who are interested in this thread, Arik has posted his new prototype in a new thread, where the discussion has continued. 



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Calculating species abundance from Acoustic Data

The question of how to calculate species abundance (rather than simply detecting presence/absence) from acoustic data seems to be a common thread with many of the people I...

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I think Steffen provided a good summary of the challenges. 

IMO, the two most promising methods of estimating animal density from acoustic monitoring are the "generalised random encounter model" (gREM) and an extension of spatially-explicit capture-recapture (SECR). These potentially solve Steffen's problems 2 and 3, i.e. linking acoustic counts to abundance (2), and converting abundance to density (3). 

gREM, although theoretically possible, may be tricky in practice (especially obtaining an estimate of how wide an animal's acoustic signal is). See here:

SECR is potentially very powerful, but depends on an independent estimate of calling rate (a problem Yu Shiu rightly picked up on). I think this would be entirely possible for a species you can find and observe (e.g. a frog or common bird species), but difficult for lots of cryptic, low density species (e.g. tigers!, as Courtney mentioned). See here:

However, gREM and SECR do not help with Steffen's first point (1) "quantifying the number of vocalisations from a stream of acoustic recordings". Others might be able to advise on the best approaches there. Perhaps this is primarily a software / data processing problem...?

In terms of sampling design (as Mariane and Courtney were interested in), it depends what your aims are. For occupancy (which is not equal to abundance/density), similar design principles to camera-trapping are fair (but taking into consideration Yu Shiu's point that the effective sampling area might be MUCH larger for an acoustic sensor than a camera trap, so camera spacing will have to be larger too). For gREM, you can fairly flexible about sampling design (repeated detections of the same individual are not a problem), but your sensors should be set randomly in space (with respect to animal movement), not along trails etc. For SECR, you don't have to set your sensors randomly, but sensors must be close enough together for repeated detections of the same call in multiple sensors simultaneously (this design constrasts, therefore, with an occupancy design). 



Hi Stephanie,

This is an interesting thread. For those interested in the topic, and forgive me for the blatant self-promotion of work, a Biological Reviews 2013 paper on the topic can be downloaded here Additional case studies papers as well as a more general public paper in Acoustics Today are also available for download from the link. This link is the outputs page from project DECAF, dedicated to estimating animal density from passive acoustic fixed sensors, using cetaceans as case studies. The methods have been far more developed and used in the cetacean community, but I suspect a wider use in terrestrial environments will occur in the coming years. A key hurdle is perhaps the dynamics involved in acoustic cue rate production, but the issues will be much easier to tackle in terrestrial environments than in the marine environments we have been working on.

Hope this is helpful,



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Funding and Job Opportunities

Hi folks,  I've just heard about a funding opportunity that might be of interest for this group. Wildlife Acoustics are going to give away up to $5,000 of...

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The Elephant Listening Project at the University of Cornell is looking a Postdoctoral research to study forest elephants in central Africa using a combination of field observations and acoustic recordings. More info.  

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Must-Have Books on Bioacoustics

Like many scientists, I am addicted to learning as much information about my field as possible. That being said - does anyone have any books they consider to be a "must-have...

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