Università degli Studi di Pavia
Dipartimento di Scienze della
Terra e dell'Ambiente
Centro Interdisciplinare di Bioacustica e Ricerche Ambientali
Via Taramelli 24 - 27100 Pavia - Italy
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
PhD Program in Earth and Environmental Sciences
Bioacoustics and Ecoacoustics applied to environmental management: scaled monitoring of acoustic biodiversity, acoustic richness and acoustic quality of habitats with different level of protection and human presence.
3) SCIENTIFIC BACKGROUND:
Ecoacoustics is an interdisciplinary science that investigates natural and anthropogenic sounds and their relationship with the environment over a wide range of study scales, both spatial and temporal, including populations and communities.
Ecoacoustics operates in all types of terrestrial and aquatic (freshwater and marine) ecosystems extending the scope of acoustics and bioacoustics.
Nature sounds can be both the subject and tools of ecological research. As the subject, sounds are investigated in order to understand their evolution, functions and properties under environmental pressures. As tools, sounds are used to study and monitor animal diversity, abundance, behaviour, dynamics and distribution, and their relationship with ecosystems and the environment.
The acoustic monitoring of habitats provides information about the presence of vocalizing animals and the level of noise related with human activities. An analytic approach allows to identify the vocalizing species, however this is time expensive and requires experts. To easily process huge amounts of acoustic data, research is aimed at developing “indexes” to describe the acoustic environment in terms of quality, quietness, richness, complexity and diversity
4) RESEARCH DESCRIPTION:
The research is being developed within the SABIOD (Scaled Acoustic Biodiversity) project granted by the French CNRS MASTODONS Project on Big Data acquisition, analysis and processing. SABIOD started in 2014 in cooperation with the University of Toulon (DYNI laboratories) and the JASON (Joint Acoustic Survey for Online Biodiversit) Project.
The research developed by CIBRA (and collaborators LSIS and Brisbane) is aimed at describing the acoustic environment, also called soundscape, of natural habitats with different level of protection and human presence. By using autonomous remote recorders able to record sounds for months (typical monitoring cycles are 2 months, with recording 10 minutes every 20 minutes, repeated to cover a whole year) it is possible to measure the anthropogenic noise and the sounds produced by the animals. The acoustic recordings are coupled by the measure of temperature, humidity, the two main parameters, with the daily solar cycle, that drive the acoustic behaviour of animals.
The project has the support of the Italian Forestry Police (CFS) that provides logistic support and the access to nature reserves, including Integral Nature Reserves, such as the RNI Sassofratino, in the National Park “Foreste Casentinesi” where we develop the project. The RNI received the Europen Diploma and is taken into consideration for the UNESCO “Millenarium Forests” program.
Three mountain habitats have been identified and monitored in 2014, two on the Alps (June to October 2014), and two in Central Italy, the RNI Sassofratino (May 2014 to February 2016) and the Isle Palmaria (June to September 2015).
In 2016 and 2017 the program will focus more on the RNI Sassofratino with continuous monitoring with two recorders located in the dense forest core and one in an open transitional area to provide synchronous recordings. Temperature and humidity data loggers are used to monitor the two weather parameters that mainly drive bird and insect singing activities. As in the site several species of bats have been recognized in a preliminary survey, a prototype of a permanent ultrasonic monitoring device will be installed as well.
We will also install the DARKJASOR luxmeter from the Axe Information of the University of Toulon. It is designed to measure in large magnitude the sun and moon light, from 100 to 0.0001 lux, with only one cell in a low power recorder. Then Darkjasor will allow to assess the natural correlation between the night / day light and the bioacoustic behavior of some bird and bats and other animals. This information will be then compared with other observations done in presence of human noise or light pollution.
Other sites to be monitored in 2016 and 2017 are the Palmaria Island (Portovenere, La Spezia) in the “Cinque Terre” National Park, and some sites in the Padana plane.
By working also on the hardware and software side, a set of new instruments are being developed and tested; among these, a multichannel autonomous recorder dedicated to bat monitoring, a web-connected acoustic recorder with temperature and humidity logger able to publish in real-time the spectrographic images of recorded sounds, a web-connected ultrasound recorder and InfraRed videorecorder to monitor bat colonies. Specific software to analyse long recordings has been tuned to provide the spectrographic image of the acoustic environment in 10 minutes, 1 hour, 6 hours, 24 hours, 1 week, 1 month time frames. Results given by “indexes”, e.g. ACI (Acoustic Complexity Index) and others, will be compared with these compact spectrograms and with the analytic results given by experts. A cooperation with the US NPS (National Parks Service) will be established to adopt common protocols for data acquisition and analysis.
By using the prototypes of the new instruments, ultrasonic monitoring on two bats colonies is also planned, one in Sassofratino (no cellphone coverage), one close to Pavia.
In May-June 2016 a workshop will be organized in Cooperation with the Italian Forestry Service to improve the understanding of acoustic methods for the study and management of natural habitats. The workshop will be targeted to the CFS personnel, researchers, and high-level students. The location will be in the National Park “Foreste Casentinesi”.
We will also conduct similar experiences in the National Park of Port-Cros in France, and / or the integral reserve of Bagaud in front of Toulon.
A LIFE project on these topics is being developed for a future submission. An INTERREG project with France is also under development.
5) EXPECTED RESULTS:
The first years of the project are dedicated at building a reference database of high quality natural habitats in Italy, primarily Integral Nature Reserves. The analysis of recordings produces a reference library for species identification (to be used for building classifiers) and indexes of quality, anthropic noise level, bioacoustics richness, bioacoustics complexity, bioacoustics diversity. In literature there are no information about the noise level and acoustic structure of natural sites. By analysing the noise of the quietest places, a reference noise model will be developed for comparing and scoring habitats affected by anthropogenic noise and assessing the impact on animal communities (e.g. communication masking).
In agreement with the CFS, a site in Sassofratino will be monitored and compared with a similar site being restored after years of human alterations; acoustic results will provide cues to drive the restoration process whose goal is to recover the forest structure as close as possible to the RNI model.
Results given by “indexes” developed by other researcher will be compared with compact spectrograms and with the analytic results given by experts to setup a standard protocol for analysing and comparing habitats.
The effectiveness of new low-cost instruments for acoustic monitoring will be also demonstrated.
Updated October 2016