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Digital Ears in the Rainforest: Estimating Dynamics of Animal Populations By Using Sound Recordings and Computing

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Voice data from digital recorders in Brazilian rainforests can soon be translated into more specific information about bird populations.

A system under development is being designed to estimate the dynamics of animal populations based on sound recordings, statistics, and scientific computing.

Credit: Ulisses Camargo

A team of Finnish and Brazilian researchers are developing a system designed to estimate the dynamics of animal populations by using sound recordings, statistics, and scientific computing.

"Our first objective is to create an algorithm that can automatically sift through tens of thousands of hours of recorded material," says University of Helsinki professor Otso Ovaskainen. The algorithm will identify the species of birds by their song and indicate how reliable the recognition is. "We will examine how the animal communities in natural and disturbed forests differ from one another, or how the proximity of a river influences the population density of different species," Ovaskainen says.

The researchers are currently developing the software to be used for species identification, building on existing molecular species identification algorithms based on DNA sequencing. The researchers want to construct the software so that it can be used to identify other animals by the sounds they make, such as frogs.

The Brazilian researchers also have developed small global-positioning system transmitters that can track the movements of large birds and mammals.

From University of Helsinki
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