Facing the Arriving Flood: INAU / CO.BRA Wild Mammal Monitoring Study
Our mammal monitoring research team, led by Kathrin Burs, presently conducts field work in the Parque SESC Baía das Pedras in the Northern Pantanal of Poconé. This study area is part of the INAU / CO.BRA mammal survey which began in 2013. Within the well-preserved park of c. 4200 hectare we maintain 38 different sample stations where wildlife cameras are installed. At certain study plots, additional audio recording devices are maintained to monitor mammal sounds at a 24 hour / 7 day-mode. These non-invasive methods provide important information on species richness, presence, and absence, habitat use, as well as on activity and communication patterns of Pantanal mammals. To better understand the seasonal changes of the local mammal community our team members carefully monitor how these animals respond to the drastic annual environmental changes from a dry savanna from June - November to an aquatic ecosystem from December – May. The beginning inundation in December poses a major logistic challenge for our team since the recording stations can be reached for the weekly services only by horse or boat.
Photo: Biology student and project volunteer Christoph Oel (left) and mammal specialist Kathrin Burs, installing a wildlife camera and an automated acoustic recording device (tree center).
Photo: A Puma (Puma concolor), a common larger cat species in our study area, passing-by a wildlife camera trap.
Photo: INAU / CO.BRA researcher checking an audio recording station during the flood period.
CO.BRA Continues in INAU II
The INAU / INCT / CO.BRA research project on the Pantanal soundscapes will continue in the INAU II phase for 3 plus 3 years, starting in 2017. Financial support will be provided by the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). From 350 INCT proposals 250 were recommended for further funding out of which 101 were finally selected. The total funding budget for the Pantanal research program is over 7 mio Reais.
A New Cricket for Brazil
The Genus Lerneca is widespread throughout the Neotropics, but previously unknown for Brazil. We recently discovered Lerneca inalata, represented by a new subspecies Lerneca inalata beripocone (Phalangopsidae, Luzarinae), collected in the Pantanal of Poconé, Mato Grosso, Brazil. The new taxon has as diagnostic features the male genitalia with six ventral spines on the B sclerite, the first spine having a subtle bifurcation; the mid-region of the strongly sclerotized pseudepiphallus; inclination of C sc- lerite with slightly concave curvature; tegmina-length ratio and the speculum (syn. mirror) width approximately three times the length of the apical area. The description of the female genitalia and the calling song is presented for the first time for the species Lerneca inalata. For further details see ZOOTAXA (pdf)
Importance of Audiovisual Collections for Biodiversity Assessment Studies
To overcome the data validation limits of traditional biodiversity assessment studies, which require the presence of experts in the field, our INAU project was based on computational recording systems (sounds, images) which allow monitoring species along the year. Automated data collection systems provide an overwhelming amount of data, causing problems with data management and analysis. In our project, this was solved by creating a server-based data bank (INAU Pantanal BioData Center) hosted at the Federal University of Mato Grosso. Multiple terabytes of audiovisual data meanwhile have become the standard. New methods of data management, analysis, visualization, and tagging are on the way of development to cope with huge amounts of information. This requires technical changes to hardware and software to allow the data analysis of such important biological data collections at a large scale. Application server units handling big data will be the future to correlate bioacoustics, wildlife images, and environmental metadata. By this, we can broaden our concepts beyond the purely academic level contributing to landscape and conservation monitoring programs. For further details see a recent publication on the importance of audiovisual biological collections (pdf).
New CO.BRA Cooperation Partner in Vegetation Sciences
Prof. Dr. Julia Arieira and her plant ecology research team from the University of Cuiaba (UNIC) joined CO.BRA as a junior partner based on a MoU between the UFMT and UNIC. Prof. Arieira is a specialist on wetland vegetation composition and structure. Her expertise will provide detailed information to better understand the seasonal distribution of sound emitting species within the different plant associations in our northern Pantanal study areas. The first cooperation project with her team will start in August analyzing the phytosociology of 8 macrohabitats where 2 annual cycles of soundscape recordings and traditional avian monitoring techniques (mist nets, point counts) were conducted. The vegetation analysis study will be part of the post-graduation program in Environmental Sciences of the University of Cuiaba.
Photo: Prof. Julia Arieira conducting field work in the Pantanal.
CO.BRA Team Presentations at the CONBRAU Congress
The 3rd Brazilian Wetland Congress (CONBRAU) was held at the National Pantanal Research Institute (INPP / UFMT) in Cuiaba from June 22 – 24. More than 300 participants from several Brazilian states, Australia, USA, and Europe attended the meeting. Under the general theme “Brazilian wetlands – knowledge status, valuation, risk, and legal situation“ 182 studies were presented orally and by posters. The CO.BRA team members contributed with three posters and one oral to the CONBRAU Congress program (posters: A. S. Tissiani et al., The UFMT Computational Bioacoustics Research Unit CO.BRA; F. Nunes et al., The Secret Acoustic Signals of the Pantanal Caiman (Caiman yacare); F. de Deus et al., Seasonality and Community Structure of Understory Woodland Birds in a Stochastic Wetland Ecosystem, a Case Study from the Northern Pantanal; invited oral: K.-L. Schuchmann, Bioacoustics – an Innovative Approach to Assess Biodiversity).
Photo: Congress inauguration held by Prof. Dr. Paulo Teixeira, Coordinator of the INAU / INCT program.
INAU Pantanal BioData Center, IPBC – Implementation of Automated Tools for the Management of Audio Data
In May and June 2016 the CO.BRA project team developed a Graphical User Interface (GUI) for the implementation of automated tools in support of an optimized management of the Pantanal audio data. Such tools are important because the soundscapes were recorded with SM2+ Songmeters that have file name length restrictions when saving the data to SD memory cards. Initially our field staff transferred the original audio files from the SD cards to external HDDs for backup purposes. Currently the soundscapes are migrated from these HDDs to a mass-storage-device (file server) at the IPBC. In order to guarantee an optimal data management through the purpose-built project database, it is necessary to change both, the file names and the SD-card-based folder structure. To that end, we integrated the following functions for the automated manipulation of sound recordings during the data transfer procedure: (1) “Copy files” from external HDDs to the file server. (2) “Rename” according to the file-naming agreements of the INAU project. (3) “Change the recording site code”, when the original locality code was wrong or changed. (4) Perform a “stereo-to-mono” split for recordings that have been made with spatially separated microphones. (5) “Split long files into smaller files”, either by defining the desired number of files or the maximum recording duration. (6) “Re-arrange” the soundscapes in a predefined folder structure. (7) “Check the integrity” of the copied files. In a next step, we will develop file-renaming and folder-reorganization tools for identified sound recordings used for the development of automated sound recognizers.
New CO.BRA Cooperation Partner
CO.BRA coordinators invited Prof. Dr. Peter Jankovic from the Dept. of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering, 52 Pritchatts Road, B15 2TT Birmingham and his research team for a research cooperation in the fields of computational bioacoustics and automated image identification. Presently both parties are negotiating with their home institutions a MoU to meet the legal bilateral research requirements. One of the first joint projects considered will be on the automated image identification of individuals of Giant Anteater based on wildlife camera images from the southern Pantanal of Mato Grosso do Sul, CO.BRA´s second study site. The database for this study is hosted at the IPBC / LETA / UFMT.
Visitors from the Brazilian Orthoptera Specialists´ Group
During the 31st Brazilian Zoology Congress, held from March 7 – 11 at the UFMT in Cuiabá, three colleagues from the Brazilian Orthoptera Specialists´ Group, Profs. Dr. Kátia Matiotti, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, RS, Dr. Carlos Sperber, Federal University of Viçosa, MG, and Dr. Edison Zefa, Federal University of Pelotas, RS, visited our INAU Pantanal BioData Center. CO.BRA coordinators Profs. Marinez I. Marques and Karl-L. Schuchmann provided an overview of the scientific scope and aims the INAU/CO.BRA research project and demonstrated high-resolution spectrogram samples of several wetland cricket species recorded during the long-term acoustic wildlife monitoring project in the Pantanal. The informal meeting served to look into future cooperations with partners from other Brazilian universities in the field of bioacoustics research and to communicate the utilization of our database-use by M.Sc. and Ph.D. candidates.
Photo: Far left to right: Karl-L. Schuchmann, INAU Project Coordinator, INAU / UFMT, Carlos Sperber, Federal University of Viçosa, MG, Kátia Matiotti, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, RS, and Edison Zefa, Federal University of Pelotas, RS.