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Moriarty Science Seminar: Eavesdropping on wildlife: Realizing the potential of autonomous acoustic surveys for ecology and conservation biology
March 28, 2022, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
R.W. Moriarty Science Seminar Presents: Eavesdropping on wildlife: Realizing the potential of autonomous acoustic surveys for ecology and conservation biology
Speaker: Tessa Rhinehart, University of Pittsburgh
Abstract:: In an era of rapid global change, it is critically important to understand how anthropogenic actions like habitat disturbance and restoration affect wildlife populations. Ecologists and conservation biologists are increasingly applying autonomous survey methods to study these questions at large scales. Autonomous surveys involve using passive sensors such as camera traps and autonomous acoustic recorders to gather data on the species present in a location. To interpret the large data sets that such sensors produce, many practitioners are turning to machine learning algorithms that can identify the species captured in these data.
However, these machine learning-driven approaches come with several drawbacks. For example, algorithms regularly misidentify species and their accuracy can differ between datasets. Interpreting this error-prone output poses challenges that this work aims to address. This talk will describe three case studies applying autonomous acoustic recorders to study bird populations. It will identify common obstacles in using such approaches and discuss how to overcome these obstacles to test ecological theories and conserve biodiversity in a changing world.