Australia’s biodiversity crisis necessitates urgent action to deliver continental-scale monitoring and management of threatened species and ecosystems. Acoustic monitoring is set to revolutionise this by capturing a permanent, direct, scalable and objective record of the environment.

As inexpensive open source recorders are now being deployed en masse, researchers, governments, land holders and the community can use acoustics to monitor their land, understand changes to native wildlife populations and detect pests. However, managing and analysing big acoustic data is difficult due to a lack of standardisation in methods and metadata. Also, siloed local data collections prevent aggregated continental-scale analysis. Biodiversity and land managers are calling for a way to share acoustic data and tools, and to visualise and analyse data that interfaces with other platforms.

The Open Ecoacoustics project will extend and generalise an existing QUT platform, the Acoustic Workbench,  to open it to everyone, and make it FAIR. The platform already manages environmental acoustic data, but this project will make it citable and interoperable. This project will also enable the aggregation and sharing of FAIR annotated datasets and species recognition algorithms (‘recognisers’), analyses and tools, and interoperate with other systems including TERN, ALA, EcoCommons and citizen science sites, through microservices and shared tools.

The Open Ecoacoustics project will also develop standards for ecoacoustics data collection and management, along with training and educational materials for users so that data collection will adhere to the standard. Standards will ensure that data is reusable. The establishment of a community will also ensure these standards are sustainable.

1 Data management
We will support the flexible ingest, search and downloading of data, from different devices and services using standard and common industry formats and services. Ultrasonic and audible data, and large numbers and durations of recordings will be supported. A standardised metadata schema describing acoustic data and its capture will be developed.
2 Data storage options
A flexible backend will permit data storage on different cloud services including Nectar and other services including commercial cloud storage.
3 Data analysis tools
Facilitating easy to use ecoacoustic data analysis, filtering, search and annotation, including pre-processing of data on ingestion; standardised HPC interfaces for mass data analysis; support for third party analysis tools (R, Python scripts, Java etc) which can be installed using containers; and visualisations of acoustic data and analyses using acoustic indices and other visualisation tools. Users will be able to share analyses and metadata, including test data sets and descriptions of tunable parameters.
4 Citizen science tools
Citizen scientists will be able to annotate and validate analyses.
5 Interoperation with other platforms
Interoperation with other systems (inc. ALA, Ecocommons, TERN, BioCollect) to provide context to ecoacoustic data and vice versa - permitting generation of ALA records; ingest of ALA taxonomic and occurrence data; ingest of occurrence data in Ecocommons models; simple visualisation of ecoacoustic data on stakeholders’ websites; and temporal and spatial dataset alignment with other services.
6 Stakeholder workshops and training
A series of workshops around user requirements will build community and ensure the platform serves the needs of that community. Guides and videos made available through EcoCommons’ EcoEd will support users.

Core features

User driven
Driven by demand from biodiversity and land managers, the platform will be shaped by multiple focussed stakeholder workshops
Continental scale
Flexible, large scale and user-friendly acoustic analysis by humans and machines, enabling continental-scale ecosystem monitoring

Who is this project for?

  • Research organisations
  • Researchers
  • Ecological agencies (both for-profit and not-for-profit)
  • Government policy makers (state and commonwealth)

What does this project enable?

The Open Ecoacoustics project will realise continental-scale fauna monitoring and research, something that was previously impossible, and it will contribute towards a national ecosystem observatory capability. This will revolutionise ecological research, including the management and conservation of biodiversity, threatened species and food security.

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Visit
EcoCommons AustraliaVisit
BirdLife AustraliaVisit
James Cook UniversityVisit
University of QueenslandVisit
Bush Heritage AustraliaVisit
NSW Department of Primary IndustriesVisit
Charles Sturt UniversityVisit
University of New EnglandVisit
Museums VictoriaVisit
University Of MelbourneVisit
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and PartnershipsVisit
Australian Wildlife ConservancyVisit