What koala noises can tell us about the environment

The presence or absence of animal species, including koalas, is a key indicator of environmental health. A team based at the Queensland University of Technology are using bio-acoustic sensors to monitor a range of animal sounds to help understand environmental changes.

Professor Paul Roe and Jason Wimmer presented their research at a seminar hosted by Sense-T and the UTAS School of Engineering and Computer Information Systems.

"The problem with traditional environmental monitoring, where people go out into the field, is that it's very expensive. It's not scaleable," said Professor Roe.

"Sound recorders are now capable of recording environmental sounds continuously for months at a time. It is yielding a permanent, direct and objective environmental record comprising terabytes of sound data: big data.

"This enables cost-effective environmental monitoring and valuing, for example for verifying land value, land rehabilitation, presence or absence of key species and human disturbance."

The team are using off-the-shelf and bespoke sensing equipment to capture sounds from a range of animal, including koalas, feral cats and endangered birds. The data is then made available to other scientists for analysis.

Paul Roe is a Professor in the Science and Engineering Faculty at QUT. He undertakes research in novel computer systems, particularly concerning eScience and novel interfaces. He leads a research group researching how acoustics can be used to scale biodiversity surveys.

Jason Wimmer completed a PhD on the use and effectiveness of acoustic sensors to monitor biodiversity (particularly avian species). Jason is involved in ongoing research assessing the use of acoustic sensors for large-scale biodiversity monitoring.


QUT bio-accoustic researchers 

Photo: QUT researchers setting up bio-accoustic monitoring of koalas

Published on: 21 Feb 2014