Allowing for non-invasive and cheap detection of elusive species, identifying animals through sound, especially birds and frogs, is becoming increasingly popular, particularly in habitats where visual observation is difficult or even impossible. In December 2018, the addition of Xeno-canto—a long-term collaborative bird song project—doubled the number of audio-enabled records in GBIF.
In a new article, a researcher from Germany reviews the current state of acoustic profiling of another group of singers: Orthoptera, known for the sounds produced by rubbing wings and/or legs together. While this insect order of grasshoppers, locusts and crickets has many species with specific songs reliable for classification, availability and accessibility of Orthoptera song recordings in general is extremely limited.
In GBIF, Orthoptera occurrence records with associated audio derive mainly from the Zoological Research Museum Alexander König—in particular DORSA (Digitized Orthoptera Specimens Access)—but also the Borror Lab of Bioacoustics (BLB) at Ohio State University. While Orthoptera records with sound are scarce compared to vertebrates, the number of available records has increased by more than 50 per cent since the publication of the article.
The author points to passive acoustic monitoring as a potential means of increasing sound data available, but this will require a data warehouse for bioacoustic data. Automatic classification and identification of records may necessitate novel acoustic profiling algorithms, or existing methods already employed in human speech recognition may be the way forward.