birdSoundscapes to Landscapes is made up of teams of volunteers—“citizen scientists”. These citizen scientists include local Audubon Chapter members and college students, who place portable sound recorders called AudioMoths (www.openacousticdevices.info) out in a variety of habitats across Sonoma County. The teams return to retrieve the recorders after a period of 2-5 days and upload these “soundscape” recordings to a cloud-based computer system. Experts within the birding community then use a subset of the recordings to train a computer to identify bird species present in field site recordings.

treeFrom the information on bird species collected at field sites, the science team will use statistical modeling and satellite data to make countywide maps of bird diversity. The project tests the accuracy of models that include several cutting-edge remote sensors.  One sensor, called LIght Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) uses pulses of light to measure the physical structure of vegetation, such as heights of trees and understory plants. Another technology being tested is an “imaging spectrometer,” that provides images from hundreds of light measurements, including wavelengths that our eyes cannot observe. Spectroscopy images can detect canopy chemistry, such as water and nitrogen content, that can be linked to ecosystem productivity and habitat quality.

The Soundscapes to Landscapes project is a partnership among the Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Analysis (CIGA) at Sonoma State University, Point Blue Conservation Science, Audubon California, Pepperwood Preserve, Sonoma County Agriculture Preservation and Open Space District, UC Merced and Northern Arizona University. This project is funded by NASA’s Citizen Science for Earth Systems Program (NNX17AG59A), in the Science Mission Directorate’s Earth Science Division.

Check out our poster for the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Conference HERE!