Bioacoustics are an emerging wildlife survey technique that offers considerable promise for surveying vocalising terrestrial mammals. Our research to date has found bioacoustics to be an effective survey method of the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) with male bellows easily distinguishable on spectograms during the breeding season. This has considerable application for long-term, broad scale monitoring of koala populations whose populations down south are often considered ‘pests’ and whose population in the north are in decline.
Given the success of bioacoustics for koalas, we are now investigating its use for understanding the influence of disturbance on another unique calling mammal – the yellow bellied glider (Petaurus australis). Yellow bellied gliders are an under-studied species that are thought to be sensitive to disturbance, however, contemporary survey methods (including call-play back and spotlighting) can be labour intensive and require optimal survey conditions to confidently detect the species.
Currently we are investigating the influence of environmental conditions (temperature, rainfall, wind) on the detectabiltity of these species in the hope of developing rigorous guidelines for their survey. We also hope to deploy songmeters to investigate population trends across environmental gradients including urban-rural landscapes and natural-plantation ecosystems.
More information about this research can be found at:
Southern Koala Research Group