|Year of Publication:
|Avian Conservation and Ecology
|acoustic surveys, Biodiversity monitoring, noninvasive sampling, passive acoustic monitoring, point counts, vocal communication
Acoustic surveys are a widely used sampling tool in ecological research and monitoring. They are used to monitor populations and ecosystems and to study various aspects of animal behavior. Autonomous recording units (ARUs) can record sound in most environments and are increasingly used by researchers to conduct acoustic surveys for birds. In this review, we summarize the use of ARUs in avian ecological research and synthesize current knowledge of the benefits and drawbacks of this technology. ARUs enable researchers to do more repeat visits with less time spent in the field, with the added benefits of a permanent record of the data collected and reduced observer bias. They are useful in remote locations and for targeting rare species. ARUs are mostly comparable to human observers in terms of species richness, but in some cases, they detect fewer species and at shorter distances. Drawbacks of ARUs include the cost of equipment, storage of recordings, loss of data if units fail, and potential sampling trade-offs in spatial vs. temporal coverage. ARUs generate large data sets of audio recordings, but advances in automated species recognition and acoustic processing techniques are contributing to make the processing time manageable. Future applications of ARUs include biodiversity monitoring and studying habitat use, animal movement, and various behavioral ecology questions based on vocalization activity. ARUs have the potential to make significant advances in avian ecological research and to be used in more innovative ways than simply as a substitute for a human observer in the field.
Autonomous recording units in avian ecological research: current use and future applications