To celebrate our 10th Anniversary, we are highlighting a key article from each of our volumes. For Volume 9 we selected Estimating effective detection area of static passive acoustic data loggers from playback experiments with cetacean vocalisations’ by Nuuttila et al. (2018). 

In this post, three of our Associate Editors with expertise in acoustic monitoring, Sarab Sethi, Camille Desjonquères and Lian Pin Koh, select their favourite MEE papers in this field.

Sarab Sethi Imperial College, London

There’s been a lot of exciting acoustics work in MEE on both the data collection and analysis side. Two of my favourites are:

Gibb et. al 2019: Emerging opportunities and challenges for passive acoustics in ecological assessment and monitoring. This was a timely, clear and comprehensive review of the field, covering sensor technology, species ID, and soundscape approaches. A particularly interesting angle was the discussion surrounding inference of population and community dynamics from passively collected audio data.

Bradfer-Lawrence et. al 2019:  Guidelines for the use of acoustic indices in environmental research. In this work, the authors compared how a wide range of acoustic indices behaved across an enormous 26,000 hrs of audio from 117 sites in central Panama. The breadth of the survey, and the thorough analyses lead to robust and practical recommendations that are invaluable for those designing new soundscape monitoring studies.

Camille Desjonquères University of St Andrews

MEE has been one of the pioneer journals for methodological advances in passive acoustic monitoring and the emerging field of ecoacoustics.

One of the first acoustic monitoring article published in the journal describes the strengths of passive acoustic monitoring compared to field surveys and automatic detection relative to manual annotations for bird monitoring (Digby et al. 2013).

MEE has been at the forefront of the scientific community’s efforts to make passive acoustic monitoring more affordable and accessible by publishing several articles describing novel open-source, inexpensive and customizable acoustic recorders such as the audiomoth (Hill et al. 2018), solo (Whytock and Christie, 2017) or more recently the state of the art SAFE acoustics (Sethi et al., 2018 and 2020)

There are a profusion of brilliant articles about protocol design and standardizing recording, one that comes to mind is an article allowing to estimate bird song detection ranges in environmental recordings (Darras et al. 2018).

Finally MEE published several seminal reviews. Some of them are great introduction to the field of passive acoustic monitoring and its next challenges (Gibb et al. 2019), while other are very helpful and pedagogic resources for scientists with a biological background to better understand some of the physics behind acoustic monitoring (Nedelec et al. 2016).

Lian Pin Koh University of Singapore

Conservation technology can help enhance the cost effectiveness of our conservation research and applications. The following are a few papers focused on innovative uses of acoustics sensing technology that are particularly exciting for me.

Sethi et al. (2020) SAFE Acoustics: An open‐source, real‐time eco‐acoustic monitoring network in the tropical rainforests of Borneo. Tropical rainforests are a treasure trove of biological diversity, and are fantastic to work in as an ecologist. The flip side is that it can be incredibly expensive, time and funding wise, to properly document and study this biodiversity. The automated approach and associate API developed by Sethi et al provides an open-source option to monitor the soundscapes of forests in real time.

Gibb et al. (2018) Emerging opportunities and challenges for passive acoustics in ecological assessment and monitoring. This is an exciting review paper on the current opportunities for passive acoustic monitoring to study a wide range of wildlife species in both the terrestrial and marine biomes. The authors also discuss the use of machine learning innovations for call identification, as well as the development of acoustics-based biodiversity indicators.

Hill et al. (2017). AudioMoth: Evaluation of a smart open acoustic device for monitoring biodiversity and the environment. The AudioMoth is a low-cost, small-size and low-energy technology that essentially democratizes acoustics detectors and sensing as an exciting new way to monitor biodiversity. The authors provide real-world examples of how this equipment is helping to advance this field.

Read more about the acoustic monitoring paper chosen as our Volume 9 highlight:

Anniversary Volume 9: Estimating Effective Detection Area of Static Passive Acoustic Data

Find out about the MEE articles selected to celebrate the other volumes and our editors’ favourite papers in this anniversary blog series.