Bio-acoustic technology in bird conservation, Bird species research

New Bio-Acoustic Technology A Boon For Conservationists

July 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

Most people are aware of the fact that years of pollution is taking its toll on our planet and the creatures on it, but when it comes to birds it is sometimes difficult to get an accurate estimate of exactly how badly particular species have been affected. That is all about to change, thanks to a new voice-recording method that has been developed specifically to assist bird conservationists.

A group of computer scientists from the University of Bonn have been working with Humboldt University’s birdsong archives to develop the new recording system. The revolutionary new system will likely prove to be an incredibly useful tool when it comes to the conservation and monitoring of several bird species, since the voice detector can recognize the characteristic bird songs of various bird species. This means the equipment can be set up in a particular spot for a chosen period of time and set to record endless hours, days, weeks or even months of sounds. Once the equipment is then collected and taken back to the office, a simple flick of the switch will allow computer software to sift through the recordings, quickly and accurately providing ornithologists with vital information such as which species are present in a particular spot, and how many members of a particular species have been singing in the area.

The amazing new system will no doubt prove to be of major benefit to conservationists and ornithologists who, up until now, have had to rely largely on man-power to do the work. This not only meant finding voluntary ornithologists to give up large amounts of time and energy as they hide in the undergrowth attempting to spot certain birds, but also meant that the volunteers in question had to have specialist knowledge that would enable them to identify certain species from their call alone – since many birds are almost impossible to spot in the leaves and undergrowth. The bird-recording system will make it much easier to collect data and process it, cutting back on manpower and most likely providing more accurate counts. The computer technology has already been tested on the Savi warbler and the chaffinch. Unfortunately the detector can only focus on the song of one particular species for now but in the future this useful tool will hopefully identify multiple species in one particular area.

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