Scientific opportunities with The Cacophony Project

Kea - Another cool NZ bird in serious decline
(can't realistically fence off Southern Alps to save them...)

The Cacophony Project is not a science project in the same way it is not a business project. However there are lots of ways the tools created by our project will be able to be used by scientists. Below are a few examples that we think are particularly interesting. 

Understanding animal behaviour and monitoring predators

The video monitoring tools are becoming more sensitive, with faster responses than those currently available, so it will be possible to better see what is really happening in the environment. It is not even known for sure how sensitive chew cards and tracking tunnels are for monitoring different types of predators. Putting the more sensitive camera device in front of tracking tunnels and chew cards will allow them to be calibrated. It is kind of like having a more powerful telescope – it has to make discoveries and understanding easier. 

Because the camera is ultimately able to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to give real time data about all types of predators and to wirelessly communicate, this opens up all sorts of opportunities for interesting experiments.

Trap effectiveness

Because there has been no way of monitoring 100% of predator activity it has  not been possible to know how effective different tracking techniques are. Our initial estimation is that they can work as little as 1% of the time (link). 
By putting the modified cameras in front of existing traps it will be possible to know for sure what trapping set ups and lures work best for different predators in different environments at different times of the year. At the moment a lot of this is guessed  due to non-sensitive predator monitoring tools.

Testing different lures

The way one goes about testing different lures should again be dramatically easier and faster because of the real time accurate measurement of predator presence. This should help for testing all types of lures including food, scents, visual, audio etc.
It should be particularly interesting to rapidly test hundreds of different sounds to see the response times automatically measured. 

Background environment sound

In most places in New Zealand there is no objective measure to even say if things are getting better or worse. The low cost Cacophonometer allows a time series of sound to be sent to the cloud and there are countless ways for analysing this and creating indexes in different environments. 

Video 1: Example of videos missed by off the shelf trail camera

Summary

At The Cacophony Project we will purposefully continue to take a ‘non-scientific’ approach highlighted in this blog. Whenever we get a sniff of an interesting result we will write about it – it is all totally open so anyone can see what we are doing and investigate further where appropriate. Our focus is on developing tools to monitor and eventually eliminate predators. We will leave the high quality science and formal publishing to the experts.

As per our CC-licensed content, please acknowledge and properly attribute The Cacophony Project in any papers if you do use the data or tools created.

We invite you to contact us to discuss the scientific opportunities available with The Cacophony Project!