Imperial College London

Characterizing soundscapes across diverse ecosystems using a universal acoustic feature set

Sarab S Sethi, Nick S Jones, Ben D Fulcher, Lorenzo Picinali, Dena Jane Clink, Holger Klinck, C David L Orme, Peter H Wrege, Robert M Ewers
July 21, 2020
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Sciences

Natural habitats are being impacted by human pressures at an alarming rate. Monitoring these ecosystem-level changes often requires labor-intensive surveys that are unable to detect rapid or unanticipated environmental changes. Here we have developed a generalizable, data-driven solution to this challenge using eco-acoustic data. We exploited a convolutional neural network to embed soundscapes from a variety of ecosystems into a common acoustic space. In both supervised and unsupervised modes, this allowed us to accurately quantify variation in habitat quality across space and in biodiversity through time. On the scale of seconds, we learned a typical soundscape model that allowed automatic identification of anomalous sounds in playback experiments, providing a potential route for real-time automated detection of irregular environmental behavior including illegal logging and hunting. Our highly …

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