Cooperative Research Units
Education, Research And Technical Assistance For Managing Our Natural Resources
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Acoustical Monitoring of Biodiversity and Phenology: A Pilot Wildlife Monitoring Partnership for Adaptive Management

This flower pot is recording sounds of birds, frogs, and insects.  The data are stored as .wav files and then uploaded to a database for analysis.


September 2009 - December 2012


A primary principle guiding the management of the state and federal lands is to conserve and enhance habitats that support a full range of native flora and fauna. Two serious forces threaten the viability of native flora and fauna today: land use change and global climate change. <br /><br />Confronting these resource management challenges requires, first and foremost, robust data to accurately predict how biodiversity will respond to land-use and climate change, and a process that links this information to landuse planning efforts and resource management in a continual way (i.e., adaptive management). The first step in this process, gathering and monitoring biodiversity data, is extremely challenging. First, the sampling area is vast. Second, not all wildlife species can be monitored; many are secretive or rare and are not easily counted by humans (e.g., black bears). Third, even if a few, target species were monitored, field-based monitoring by humans across the entire state of Vermont would be cost prohibitive. <br /><br />One potential solution to these challenges is to establish an acoustical monitoring network, where 1) vocalizations made by indicator wildlife species are recorded continually at sampling stations located throughout the sampling area, 2) recorded sounds are delivered to a central database where computers are used to identify species-specific sounds, and 3) the acoustical data can be accessed and used by natural resource managers in a structured decision making/adaptive management framework. <br /><br />Our goal in this pilot effort is to field test acoustical techniques, database development, computer-automated animal identification, and programmatic methodologies. Through this study, we hope to identify opportunities and constraints for establishing a large-scale acoustic monitoring program. This pilot study is a partnership between the National Park Service, the National Phenology Network, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, and the Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Katz, J., S. Hafner, and T. Donovan. 2016. Assessment of Error Rates in Acoustic Monitoring with the R package monitoR. Bioacoustics. DOI:10.1080/09524622.2015.1133320 Abstract |  Publisher Website | 
  • Katz, J., S. Hafner, and T. Donovan. 2016. Tools for automated acoustic monitoring within the R package monitoR. Bioacoustics. DOI:10.1080/09524622.2016.1138415 Abstract |  Publisher Website | 
  • Brauer, C., T. Donovan, R. Mickey, J. Katz, and B. Mitchell. 2016. A comparison of acoustic montoring methods for common anurans of the northeastern United States. Wildlife Society Bulletin 40:140-149. Publisher Website | 

Technical Publications

  • Tierney, G., B. Mitchell, A. Miller-Rushing, J. Katz, E. Denny, C. Brauer, T. Donovan, A. Richardson, M. Toomey, A. Kozlowski, J. Weltzin, K. Gerst, E. Sharron, O. Sonnentag, F. Dieffenbach . 2013. Phenology monitoring protocol: Northeast Temperate Network. Natural Resource Report. NPS/NETN/NRR—2013/681. National Park Service. Fort Collins, Colorado. Published Report-2197242. Abstract |


  • Brauer, Corinne L. 2012. A comparison of acoustic monitoring methods for common anurans of the northeastern United States. MS Thesis, University of Vermont, Burlington Vermont.Download  | 
  • Katz, J. E. 2015. monitoR: Automation tools for landscape-scale acoustic monitoring. PhD Dissertation. University of Vermont, Burlington, VT.Download  | 


  • Katz, J. E., S. Hafner, and T. M. Donovan. 2014. monitor: an R package for automated acoustic monitoring, tested on two northeastern warblers. 70th Annual Northeast Fish and Wildlife Conference, Portland, ME.
  • Katz, J. E., S. Hafner, and T. M. Donovan. 2014. Automated acoustic monitoring: reporting survey presence for a northeastern warbler . 70th Annual Northeast Fish and Wildlife Conference, Portland, ME.

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 239

Phd Students: 142

Post Docs: 53

University Staff: 240

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 701

Scientific Publications: 1936

Presentations: 4260



  • Therese DonovanPrincipal Investigator
  • Corinne BrauerStudent
  • Brian MitchellCo-Principal Investigator
  • Jonathan KatzStudent

Funding Agencies

  • National Park Service
  • U.S. Geological Survey


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey