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 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. 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.
The Open Ecoacoustics project will extend and generalise an existing QUT platform, the Acoustic Workbench, to open it to everyone. This platform will enable the aggregation, sharing and citation of FAIR annotated datasets, species recognition algorithms (‘recognisers’), and analytical tools.
The project is developing a standard for ecoacoustics data and metadata to ensure data is interoperable and reusable. Training for users and the establishment of a community around ecoacoustics will help to ensure the adoption and sustainability of these standards.
The platform will support the ingest, search and downloading of data from different devices and services using standard and common industry formats and services. A flexible backend will permit data storage on different cloud services including the ARDC Nectar Research Cloud and commercial cloud storage.
Easy-to-use ecoacoustic data analysis tools will allow pre-processing of data on ingestion, annotation, standardised HPC interfaces for mass data analysis, and visualisations of acoustic data.
Third-party analysis tools such as R, Python scripts, and Java will be able to be installed using containers. Users will be able to share analyses and metadata, including test data sets and descriptions of tunable parameters. Citizen scientists will be able to annotate and validate analyses.
Who Will Benefit
Research organisations, researchers, ecological agencies and government policy makers will benefit from the project’s core features:
- User driven – Driven by demand from biodiversity and land managers, multiple focussed stakeholder workshops will shape the platform
- Continental scale – Flexible, large scale and user-friendly acoustic analysis by humans and machines, enabling continental-scale ecosystem monitoring
Our partners are:
- Atlas of Living Australia
- EcoCommons Australia
- BirdLife Australia
- James Cook University
- The University of Queensland
- Bush Heritage Australia
- NSW Department of Primary Industries
- Charles Sturt University
- University of New England
- Museums Victoria
- University Of Melbourne
- Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Partnerships
- Australian Wildlife Conservancy
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.