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2-week course: Recording and Analysis of Biological Sounds

Guest Russ Charif

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Guest Russ Charif

Field Recording and Analysis of Biological Sounds for Research and Conservation


Acoustic recording and monitoring have become mainstream tools for biological research and conservation. Increasingly, acoustic recordings are used to address a variety of basic and applied questions about the biology of acoustically active animal taxa in terrestrial and aquatic environments. Although equipment for recording and software for analyzing animal sounds are more readily available than ever before, few opportunities exist for biologists to learn how to use the equipment and software appropriately. This two-week field-based course is intended for scientists at any career stage, including students, interested in applying bioacoustic methods to basic and applied research in fields such as behavioral ecology, taxonomy, distribution, and conservation biology of birds, anurans, bats, insects, marine mammals, fish, and other acoustically active animals.


The course aims to provide participants with practical skills in digital audio recording in the field, and in appropriate use of acoustic analysis software to visualize and extract information relevant to a variety of research or conservation questions. The course provides all of the conceptual background needed to support these skills, and to help practitioners avoid common pitfalls in recording and analysis of animal sounds. In addition to covering best practices for recording and analysis of animal sounds, we also discuss the limitations of acoustic methods and realistic expectations for these techniques. Throughout the course, we emphasize how to avoid common pitfalls and errors both in recording and analysis.


Each day is comprised of several hours of early-morning field recording followed by lectures/discussions and hands-on exercises in the afternoon. After learning basic field recording and analysis skills, course participants will plan and execute a short research project, either in small groups or individually, that involves making recordings in the field, then analyzing those recordings to answer a specific research question.



May 1-12, 2017



Greg Budney and Russ Charif, of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology



Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, USA


Course Costs

The total cost for this two-week course is $2925.50 (Course fee of $2100 + Housing and Dining Package of $825.50). Those applying as citizens of “less-developed” nations qualify for a reduced course fee of $1200, making the total cost including housing (shared double room) and dining package $2025.50.

Course payment includes:

  • Registration fees
  • Instruction, course manual, and other course materials
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off shuttle service at Dulles International Airport (IAD)
  • Transportation for course activities
  • Daily full-service buffet-style dining at the SMSC Dining Commons
  • Housing at the SMSC Residential Facility, including a shared room with bathroom


Further Information

Further details about the course and links to the online application are here.

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