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Audio software identifies rainforest life

Noisy species, such as this coqui frog, can now be easily identified from audio recordings made in rainforests

By Rebecca Morelle Science reporter, BBC World Service
6 July 2013

Scientists have found a new way to identify the animals that live in a rainforest.

A team from Puerto Rico has developed technology that can analyse audio recordings and automatically recognise creatures by the sounds they make.

The researchers said the software would make monitoring the life found in tropical ecosystems faster and easier for biologists.

The details are published in the journal PeerJ.

Lead researcher Dr Mitch Aide, from the University of Puerto Rico, said: “Acoustic recording devices have been around for a long time, but what hasn’t been around is a way to manage and then analyse all of these recordings.”

‘Acoustic signature’

Scientists use audio recordings to get a snapshot of the rich life hidden away in a rainforest.

But until recently, the different species had to be identified manually, with researchers ploughing through hours of audio to decipher animal calls.

Dr Mitch Aide explained: “If a researcher had 50,000 one-minute recordings, it would take 833 hours to listen to them just once, no pausing.”

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