Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Vermont
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Balantic, C., and T. M. Donovan. 2019. Temporally-adaptive acoustic sampling to maximize detection across a suite of focal wildlife species. Ecology and Evolution 9(18)10582-10600. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.5579


1. Acoustic recordings of the environment can produce species presence–absence data for characterizing populations of sound‐producing wildlife over multiple spatial scales. If a species is present at a site but does not vocalize during a scheduled audio recording survey, researchers may incorrectly conclude that the species is absent (“false negative”). The risk of false negatives is compounded when audio devices have sampling constraints, do not record continuously, and must be manually scheduled to operate at pre‐selected times of day, particularly when research programs target multiple species with acoustic availability that varies across temporal conditions.

2. We developed a temporally adaptive acoustic sampling algorithm to maximize detection probabilities for a suite of focal species amid sampling constraints. The algorithm combines user‐supplied species vocalization models with site‐specific weather forecasts to set an optimized sampling schedule for the following day. To test our algorithm, we simulated hourly vocalization probabilities for a suite of focal species in a hypothetical monitoring area for the year 2016. We conducted a factorial experiment that sampled from the 2016 acoustic environment to com ‐pare the probability of acoustic detection by a fixed (stationary) schedule versus a temporally adaptive optimized schedule under several sampling efforts and monitoring durations.

3. We found that over the course of a study season, the probability of acoustically capturing a focal species (given presence) at least once via automated acoustic monitoring was greater (and acoustic capture occurred earlier in the season) when using the temporally adaptive optimized schedule as compared to a fixed schedule.

4. The advantages of a temporally adaptive optimized acoustic sampling schedule are magnified when a study duration is short, sampling effort is low, and/or species acoustic availability is minimal. This methodology presents the opportunity to maximize acoustic monitoring sampling efforts amid constraints.