9.2 What have we learned about oil sands wildlife by using automatic recording units


Dr. Erin Bayne, University of Alberta





Alberta’s soundscape is a diverse mixture of wildlife, human, and other natural sounds. These sounds provide valuable information for assessing status  and trends of wildlife, while simultaneously allowing us to evaluate how human activities influence the physical and acoustic quality of the environment. Historically, many animal populations have been monitored by human observers visiting a location for a short period of time once a year and recording the species heard. This approach has several limitations that can be improved upon by recording what is heard with automated recording units (ARUs). Unlike humans, ARUs can record sounds for long periods of time in any and all environmental conditions. The Acoustic Monitoring Group is a partnership that has developed new approaches to coordinating usage of ARUs, standardizing methods, and creating new ways of processing audio recordings to maximize information content. Recent advances in computer- based species recognition, proper handling of species detection error, and ARU sampling design will be demonstrated using data from case studies that evaluate the relative importance of anthropogenic noise versus structural alteration of vegetation caused by the energy sector in the boreal forest of northern Alberta.




Education: BSc (Hons.) – University of Regina; MSc and PhD (University of Saskatchewan). MSc and PhD done in collaboration with Environment Canada – Canadian Wildlife Service. Post-doc: University of Alberta

Overview: Twenty+ years experience in the field of Ecology and Environmental Biology. Interests are mainly on the behavioral, population, and community responses of different wildlife species to human impacts with an emphasis on birds and how humans alter relationships between birds, their predators, and their prey. Current focus is on how to use new technologies to advance ecological monitoring.

Publications: Author of 85 referred publications and 15 government/ industry reports. Collaborator on the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institue, Integrated Landscape Management Group, and Boreal Avian Modeling Project at University of Alberta

Awards: Elected member of the American Ornithological Union (2003) and Society of Canadian Ornithologists (2009).