Community Monitoring with Bioacoustics

Wildlife in the forests of western North America currently face significant challenges due to human land use and climate change. Further, the global environment has witnessed an increase in the frequency and severity of various ecological disturbances, such as severe wildfires, diseases, droughts, insect outbreaks, and invasive species. These disturbances have profound effects on the distribution, abundance, and diversity of wildlife.

While extensive research has been conducted to address environmental change in western forests, the Peery Lab takes a multi-faceted approach to tackle these questions on a region-wide scale, breaking new ground in the avian conservation field. The program uses autonomous recording units (ARUs) to conduct nighttime bioacoustics surveys at scales never before attempted. Since 2021, the lab conducts annual monitoring surveys across much of California’s western Sierra Nevada region and since 20xx, surveys northern coastal forest areas. After the acoustic data is collected, the lab uses machine learning software(BirdNET) through partnership with Cornell University’s K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics to detect species of interest. These efforts have given rise to bioacoustics projects that not only investigate how birds adapt to different environmental changes but also shed light on the intricacies of resource sharing and competition among birds in dynamic landscapes.

In addition to surveying for forest owl species, diurnal birds vocalizations are captured during dawn and dusk hours. Connor Wood at Cornell University uses these data to identify and study over 100 species of birds in the Sierra Nevada.

Quick Facts


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“Birds are indicators of the environment. If they are in trouble, we know we’ll soon be in trouble.”

Roger Tory Peterson

Who’s Hooting?

Audio recordings provided by xeno-canto

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Relevant Publications

Kelly, K. G., Wood, C. M., McGinn, K., Kramer, H. A., Sawyer, S. C., Whitmore, S., Reid, D., Kahl, S., Reiss, A., Eiseman, J., Berigan, W., Keane, J. J., Shaklee, P., Gallagher, L., Munton, T. E., Klinck, H., Gutiérrez, R. J., & Peery, M. Z. (2023). Estimating population size for California spotted owls and barred owls across the Sierra Nevada ecosystem with bioacoustics. Ecological Indicators 154:110851.

McGinn, K., Kahl, S., Peery, M. Z., Klinck, H., & Wood, C. M. (2023). Feature embeddings from the BirdNET algorithm provide insights into avian ecology. Ecological Informatics 74:101995.

Reid, D. S., Wood, C. M., Whitmore, S. A., Berigan, W. J., Keane, J. J., Sawyer, S. C., Shaklee, P. A., Kramer, H. A., Kelly, K. G., Reiss, A., Kryshak, N., Gutiérrez, R. J., Klinck, H., & Peery, M. Z. (2021). Noisy neighbors and reticent residents: Distinguishing resident from non-resident individuals to improve passive acoustic monitoring. Global Ecology and Conservation 28:e01710.

Wood, C. M., Gutiérrez, R. J., & Peery, M. Z. (2019). Acoustic monitoring reveals a diverse forest owl community, illustrating its potential for basic and applied ecology. Ecology 100:e02764.

Wood, C. M., Popescu, V. D., Klinck, H., Keane, J. J., Gutiérrez, R. J., Sawyer, S. C., & Peery, M. Z. (2019). Detecting small changes in populations at landscape scales: A bioacoustic site-occupancy framework. Ecological Indicators 98 492–507.

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