Monthly Archives: February 2015

Methods and Procedures

Methods and Procedures

Bioacoustics is all about the recording of the animals. Recording is basically the same procedure whether the species is terrestrial, cursorial, or arboreal. Fossorial and aquatic species will likely not be recorded in this expedition.

  1. When recording, first, target a sound.
  2. Next, rotate the microphone 90 degrees to the right or left and listen for a second, repeat in the same direction until finding the area where the target sound is the strongest.
  3. Next, take a safety recording of about 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. After the safety recording, begin the approach (while still recording).
  5. Half the distance between the microphone and the species, check the gain to make sure the recorder is taking in nothing above 12 gain, if so, turn down the gain.
  6. If the species is still a good distance away, meaning that the gain has not reached above 12, and half the distance again; repeat as many times as needed while simultaneously continuing to check the gain.
  7. Feeling that the recording is of sufficient quality, make the closing statement. For the closing statement state the name of the species (if identified), the date, the time of day, the location, the GPS coordinates and elevation, the temperature, the behavioral context of sound, the natural sound or response to to playback (if playback, announce on tape), the number of individuals, the habitat description, the recording equipment (the type of audio recorder, microphone, if used, filter position), and the distance to the animal.

When recording around water, the procedure of recording basically is the same, but the water must be taken into account.

  1. First, target a sound.
  2. Next, rotate the microphone 90 degrees to the right or left and listen for a second, repeat in the same direction until finding the area where the target sound is the strongest and the sound of water is the lowest.

When recording around water, there are some dead spots where the water is less audible. These dead spots depend on the type of water that is being recorded near. If recording around a deep stream or river, meaning a stream or river where the water level is below ground level, the dead zone lies in a parabola beside the ditch, as seen in the picture. Beneath the parabola is the dead zone, where the disrupting sound of the stream does not reach, almost like rain with an umbrella, the ditch acts as an inhibiting object, that distorts the sound waves so that they travel vertically and then more diagonally, rather than horizontally. If recording around a waterfall, stream, or river, and there is a large object such as a tree, or large rock, between the species being recorded, and the source of the disruptive noise, stand on the species side of the rock, tree, or inhibiting object with the recorder and as close to said object as possible, to be sure that as little disruptive noise as possible inhibits the recording.

The 2014-2015 Bioacoustics and Telemetry Team uses a software called Raven Pro Software, designed by Cornell University. This software helps to see if the recordings are good. The idea behind the team using Raven Software is to see the highs and lows of the recording and make sure that they are not above or below 12 or -12 gain. The Team’s use of Raven has evolved since last year. This year, the Bioacoustics and Telemetry team is not using Raven to edit the recordings. Cornell wants the recording as it was recorded to be sure that the sound of the animal is in its purest form.

The Bioacoustics and Telemetry team was derived from a previous team on the Forman School Rainforest Project, Project O, or Orthopterans. Project BT is only in its second year. Last year’s team focused a lot on Orthopterans. This year, Orthopterans will be taking a bit of a back seat. Although Orthopterans will be a satellite subject to the project, they are still a very important aspect of the project. Orthopterans are essential to the Rainforest and the study of Orthopterans and their health reflects the rainforest’s health and it’s biodiversity. The idea is to get recordings of the Orthopterans in captivity without them feeling as if their in captivity. If the Orthopterans feel as if their in captivity, they will make distress calls, rather than their natural communication. In order to allow the insects to feel at ease, there needs to be a container made that simulates their natural habitat.


In this project, telemetry is the procedure of collaring and tracking an animal. Telemetry aids in recording by giving a person the ability to find a certain animal in its natural habitat in order to record and document the natural behavior of said animal without human contact.

  1. First, attach a transmitter to a captured animal, be sure that it fits well enough not to fall off, but does not harm the animal.
  2. Next, setup the antenna and and the receiver in order to track the animal.
  3. Let the animal go.
  4. Next, track the animal.
  5. Begin tracking by closing eyes and moving the antenna horizontally, 360˚.
  6. Stop the antenna where the signal sounds loudest.
  7. Next, move the antenna in a vertical motion.
  8. Stop the antenna where the signal sounds loudest.
  9. Open eyes and walk in the direction of the loudest signal.
  10. Stop every 10 steps and repeat steps 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. (alter step 5 and only rotate horizontally 180˚)
  11. As the species gets closer, turn down the RF gain in order to get a more accurate reading on the species location.
  12. Once the animal has been found, record it and attempt to get the collar back.

There are two possible signals. The first signal is called an up signal, this signal will be variant and means the animal is active, or moving. The second type of signal is a down signal. A down signal is a constant beat, this means the animal has stopped, whether it be sleeping dead, or the collar fell off, or it means that there is a short signal.


Leaving in Three Days!

For the bird team to conduct the research properly and efficiently, we bring 18-20 poles and around 20 nets. Each net is attached to the poles the nets span a length of around 11 meters or 36 feet. The pole length is 2.43 meters or eight feet. The process for setting up the net takes two or three people; one person holds the net inside of a plastic bag, so that the net does not get human scent. This is so any birds flying through the area do not smell the nets and go around. Meanwhile another person is unraveling the net. This is a critical stage in the setup, if the net touches the ground; all of the debris has to be removed and is just time consuming. Once the net has been outstretched it is attached to the other pole via loops, the netting has to be taught so that birds do not get injured. There are four loops per each side of the net, three white and one black. The white loops have to go above the lock while the black loop goes below the lock. The locking mechanism is designed so that the pols won’t slide down once propped up; to collapse the poles, the lock has to be squeezed at the top of the pole. To extend the poles they have to be razed to the desired height or add another pole to the pre-existing pole. This is all to catch different types of flying birds i.e. low flying versus high flying birds. To actually catch the birds there has to be some excess netting at the bottom to create pocket for the birds to fall into. Once the poles and netting have been set up the Bird Team will use a small hammer to anchor the poles into place. The Bird Team expects to have technical difficulties, however have the means to fix and make most repairs to netting. To disassemble the net, the poles locks are compressed allowing the poles to be broken down. To put the nets away, each net must be spun to make them into more rope-like and manageable. To pack the net, hold onto the pole and grabbing an arms length of the net with the other, pull the net keeping it tight. It is important to not tangle the net during this process.

After the bird is caught, the Bird Team then takes them out of the net carefully, while making sure the bird remains calm. After the bird is taken out of the net, we carefully put them into bird bags. The bird bags are small and the bird will be able to breathe safely. The Bird Team then uses The Birds of Costa Rica: a Field Guide by Richard Garrigues and Robert Dean field guide to help identify what kind of bird it is. From there, the Bird Team will mark where on the map the bird was found. This may help to identify any patterns that may occur.

Next, the Bird Team examines the bird. Weight, height, gender, and wingspan, are all taken note of. The weight is measured using scales. There are many different kinds of scales that can be used to do this. Wing chord is measured using calipers. Once the wing chord is measured, the age can then be determined. If the bird is a migratory bird, it gets banded. If the bird already has been banded, the Ornithologist’s attempt to recover data on that bird.


-10-20 net poles

-1 net per 2 poles

-Net bags

-Bird bags

The Birds of Costa Rica by Richard Garrigues and Robert Dean and Training Manual for Field Biologist in Papua New Guinea by Andrew L. Mack and Debra D. Wright

– Records from previous year

– Scales


-Pen for markings

-Duct tape

Improved Silk Extractors

After receiving all our Patagonia gear, one of our team members father, Mr. Farrell, who is a professional metallurgist, stopped by to take a look at our silk extractors in preparation for converting four of our silk extractors into metal. Thanks to him, our silk extractors will improve dramatically, as there will be no more warping in the wood and everything will become more solid and accurate.  And the best part is that it will all be professionally modified to enhance their performance when extracting the silk from the Nephila clavipes.

Terrence Farrell, Farrell Precision Metal Craft Corp.

Thank You, Cornell University

Thank you so much Cornell University for lending us your Sony PBR/400 Parabola dish. We have been practicing our recording techniques. We have also been studying more about sound waves so that we can better understand how to drown out certain sounds naturally as to not take anything away from the animal’s sound.

Thank You Patagonia!

Thanks to you we have great gear!

From early mornings with the bird team to late nights with the Reptiles & Amphibians team, we will be trapping, recording, and doing research in the driest and warmest possible way.

We’re Getting Ready!

Recently the bird team has been working diligently to study and analyze the bird species of Costa Rica. We have also been studying conservation laws to educate and prepare us for our procedures and any conflicts we may encounter. In more exciting news, we got our gear from Patagonia and we also got new bird guides. The new bird books help us identify the bird as well as where they can be found in Costa Rica. In addition to learning about different bird species, we have been learning how to set up and take down bird nets. We are very excited to be going to Costa Rica in 26 Days!

Tori Juster and Will Spangler (Bird Team 2015)