I was happy to be invited by Tiago Marques to present at the Acoustical Society of America conference in November. This was my first “acoustics” conference, so it was nice to finally branch out from birds and behaviour, and see talks about acoustics more generally.
Full disclosure, though, I still talked about birds. My talk was entitled “Sound localization for estimating population densities of birds: progress, challenges and opportunities”. In short, I highlighted that sound localization has seldom, if at all, been used to estimate the population density of birds. It is well-suited to this task, however, because sound recorders allow researchers to simultaneously and completely sample an area of arbitrary size for all singing birds. This removes/minimizes many of the nuisance variables associated with population density estimation (e.g. time-of-day, time-of-season, bird movement). It also allows much more precise estimation of habitat use at fine spatial scales, compared to rather coarse-scale sampling methods in current use.
The main problem is cost: hardware expenses alone might cost $100,000 to cover an area the size of three football fields. Covering smaller areas is cheaper and useful for many research questions, but if the goal is density estimation, “edge-effects” lead to many of the same problems as other survey methods. Hopefully, as sound localization sees broader adoption, these costs come down.
Many thanks to my aunt and uncle, Susan and Ross Holloway, for putting me up in their house for the week! I hope to attend another ASA meeting soon!