Category Archives: Bioacoustics and Telemetry

Bioacoustics and Bird Team

Bioacoustics focuses in the recording of species, no matter whether it’s terrestrial or aerial.

The Bioacoustics and Birds Team uses a software called Raven Pro Software to check the highs and lows of the recordings. It keeps the awareness of the sound to be below 12 gain.


In bioacoustics is important to have quality audio equipment to have an optimal sound recording of the animals.

  1. Parabolic Dish (Telinga Pro Universal ME)
  2. Long shotgun Microphone (Sennheiser ME67)/Windshield (Rycote Softie)
  3. Omnidirectional Microphone Capsule (Sennheiser ME62)
  4. Headphones (Sony MDR-7506)
  5. Digital Audio Recorder (Marantz PMD 661 MKII)

Setting Up:


  1. Set up the digital recorder by turning it on.
  2. Once it’s powered on, proceed to insert the headphones in the “phones”  plug of the recorder.
  3. Next, grab an omnidirectional microphone and insert it inside the parabolic dish. Check that the microphone is not fully inserted, thus there need to be a space between the surface and the microphone (quarter of finger)
  4. Proceed to connect the parabolic dish in the digital recorder in the mono setting.
  5. Press the “Rec” button for a test check.
  6. Once everything is settled, it is ready to record data!



  1. Target a sound and listen for a bit to find the area where its sound is the strongest
  2. Recommended to take safety recordings.
  3. Begin approach while still recording
  4. Mind the gain. Make sure it’s not above 12 gain, if so, turn down.
  5. Once the recording is finished, begin closing statement by naming the species (if identified), date and time of day, location, habitat description, and the distance to the animal.


-Silvanna Najri and Kseniya Kotova



2016 Bioacoustics Team

Imagine a world where scientists have access to every sound of every species on the planet at the click of a button. Imagine what that data could be used for in the field of biology and conservation. Tremendous results could be derived from the sounds of animals, ranging from the anthropogenic impact on vast ecosystems to determining the biomass of a given creature.

This is one of the ultimate goals in the field of bioacoustics and it all starts with the digital collection of quality audio. It is the 2015-2016 Forman Rainforest Project’s Bioacoustics Team that will attempt to achieve this collection for the betterment of the rainforest and the world. Since 1992, the team has been recording sounds of various species in the Costa Rican rainforest for the database at the Macaulay Library of Cornell University. Our goal this year is to continue submitting recordings to the library, but with improved recording equipment. We will be using Cornell’s sound analysis software called Raven to compare and analyze the recordings in the field, which will allow us to look over the quality and continuity of the recordings. We will continue to build better collection and microphone techniques for the optimum sound when recording.

Aidan Keilty, Patrick, and Zachary LaRocca-Stravalle ’17 will do their best to advise the Bioacoustics Team this year. While bioacoustics may seem unnecessary now, it plays a major part in the surveillance of the ecosystem’s health and makes it easier to take population inventories without displacing animals. The 2015-2016 Bioacoustics team will work to contribute to the vast repository of recordings to obtain such a goal and make the world a better place for all animals.


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.

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.

Bioacoustics and Telemetry Team of 2014-2015



Think of a drone flying over the Costa Rican Rainforest, recording what it hears and sending it back to some guy in Arizona. Imagine that guy in Arizona being able to take a population inventory of a species just by sitting and listening, no stress of capturing animals, no cost of travel, no extremely expensive equipment, just one guy, listening. This is what the Bioacoustics and Telemetry Team is working toward. The 2014-2015 Bioacoustics and Telemetry Team is Tyler Dunn, Peter Newmark, and Brooke Shemwell. The Forman Rainforest Project’s Bioacoustics and Telemetry Team will be collecting the sounds of a variety of species for the database at the Macaulay Library at Cornell. So, here are the basics, bioacoustics is the sound that animals make. The telemetry component of the project allows the us to track larger animals like mammals back to their home so that we can record them. Cornell has designed a sound anaylisis software called Raven which will be used to compare and anlize the recordings in the field. This will allow us to take a closer look at each recording to make sure we have caught the sound in its entirety. The Bioacoustics and Telemetry Team is also learning how to retrieve sounds at optimum recording quality by using different techniques when it comes to the recorder’s microphone settings and placement when recording. Taking recordings of animals might seem quaint and unimportant right now, but the Bioacoustics and Telemetry Team plan to save the rainforest by making it a lot easier to take population inventories instead of through the collection of displaced animals. The 2015 Bioacoustics and Telemetry Team is truly aiming to make the world a better place for all animals.



Goals for this year:

*add to the Macaulay Library

*Record animals in different times throughout the day to get a better understanding of the recordings and the animals behaviors.


Objectives Before the Rainforest

*Familiarize ourselves with Raven and learn how to make strong recordings

*Complete the Methods and Equipment Paper




Methods and Materials 2014

As our departure day nears, project BT (Bioacoustics and Telemetry) is working every day to finalize our methods and materials.  We have come up with multiple new ways of recording that we will be trying at the Forman School base which will give us new measurable variables for our research. Our team leader, Shawn Mullen, has bought multiple crickets from a pet store which are staying in an animal cracker jar. We have ordered corrugated plastic which we will use to make different environments for the crickets. The new parabolic mic that our wonderful Wendy Welshans was able to get us will be used to get stronger recordings from Orthoptera.  We may even be able to get a recording of a bullet ant’s call. After recordings are taken, they will be processed into Raven Software on a Glacier computer.  Thanks to the computer, we will be able to process recordings in the field without risk of loss to our data. The team has ordered multiple new field guides for identification. The telemetry equipment we will be using is mostly the same as it was last year, but we did add a very small collar so we can track more species.

Project BT 2013-2014

This year we are revamping Project O (Orthoptera). This years team: Coleman Walker, Jay Hopkins, Nate Langh, and our team leader Shawn Mullen are working to transcend the perceived limits of Costa Rican Bioacoustic Recording. We are still keeping the focus on Orthopterans and recording their calls, but our team is diversifying our focus to recording not only Orthopterans, but Birds,  Amphibians, and Mammals as well, adding to the Macaulay Sound Library at Cornell University. We are collaborating with the other groups and forming lists of attractive species that the sound library needs for when we take our journey into the feild later this coming February.

Our jobs, as a team, this year is ambitious. Practically starting from scratch, Project BT,  is collecting Field guides and familiarizing ourselves with the tools, insects, and software. We are also adapting several Orthoptera recording techniques, and doing extensive research to be ready for Costa Rica. Our research today aids future researching processes. To one day be able to enter any habitat, record the surroundings, run the sound through a database, and be able to see a diagnostic of the habitats heath is very exciting and only a few years from becoming reality.

Project O had been running for 3 years, however now we are changing it to Bioacoustics & Telemetry.

Our Goals this year:

  1. to add to the Macaulay Library’s birds, reptiles, and amphibian sound database by working with the other groups and what they catch while in the field.
  2. to discover a new method of recording and identifying Orthopterins and other sound producing insects of Costa Rica, hopefully adding to the Macaulay Library sound database.
  3. to use the science of radio telemetry to track many of the recorded birds, reptiles, amphibian, and Orthopterins to better document their habitat borders.

There is a lot the world doesn’t know about earth’s beautiful Rainforests. Peering through an open door of infinite possibility is a daunting thing; but we cannot turn back, don’t want to turn back. Follow us through the door, we will have a lot to share.

Bioacoustics and Telemetry

Orthoptera and Odonata Methods Paper

Data gathering