Skip to content

How Do We Listen In?

Updated Friday 16th July 2004

How do we monitor the communication we cannot hear? Learn more about infrasound monitoring

A frog - volunteers are trained to listen for specific species' calls Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission Infrasound monitoring has become an important tool for scientists assessing populations of endangered forest elephants in Africa. Specialist equipment (sensitive to sounds at low frequencies) is required to record the calls and store them as digital information. They can then be analysed both audibly, by speeding up the call (raising its frequency), and visually (as a graphical representation of the sound waves). Elephant conversations in dense forest can be automatically recorded in this way over periods of several months.

The development of these infrasound recording techniques has allowed the study of elephants which are otherwise difficult to even find! Scientists also use acoustic monitoring to assess populations of other endangered animals such as grasshoppers, bats, badgers and amphibians, as well as introduced insect pests.

In North America in particular (although the method is applicable to other parts of the world), conservationists use volunteers trained to recognise the calls of different frogs and toads to monitor the presence of breeding males at ponds. Repeat calling surveys over a period of years can then be used to assess changes in species abundance and distribution.

This research could be especially important as amphibians are known to be particularly sensitive to environmental changes – changes which, in time, can have detrimental effects to human health and quality of life. An understanding of the acoustic environment might therefore be just as important to Brian from Personnel as it is to a hunting bat.

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

Science, Maths & Technology 

9/11: Attack on the Wires

What happens when one of the worst terrorist attacks in history strikes the densest cluster of networks on the planet? How did the largest communications provider in the United States handle the surge in demand? Despite surviving earthquakes, hurricanes and other man-made and natural disasters, the staff at AT and T struggled to cope with the flood of calls that followed the tragic events of September 11th. Over the course of the day they handled in excess of 400 million calls as people in America, and all over the world tried to contact friends and family in New York. This collection gives a snapshot of how the communications company dealt with the unprecedented technological challenges by using techniques such as call gapping to help free up other services.

Video
10 mins
Do animals have sex for fun? Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: htraue article icon

Nature & Environment 

Do animals have sex for fun?

How was it for Fido? Do animals approach sex in more than a - well, animalistic - way?

Article
article icon

Nature & Environment 

Living With Invaders

The impact that the invasion of exotic plants and animals has had on the British Isles - living with invaders

Article
Polar Plankton: indicators of environmental change Creative commons image Icon idua_japan under CC-BY-NC-ND under Creative-Commons license audio icon

Nature & Environment 

Polar Plankton: indicators of environmental change

The Saving Species team talks to Chris Reid and Graham Hosie about studying microscopic polar plankton - the source of all food in the oceans

Audio
15 mins
Cloning: Talk The Talk Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission article icon

Nature & Environment 

Cloning: Talk The Talk

How to sound like an expert. Cloning is one of those huge, revolutionary news stories that’s catching many people out. And not just members of the public. Listen carefully to some of our most famous interviewers and commentators on the subject, and beneath the smooth vowels, you can often hear the sound of a mild panic mixed with that sick feeling that comes from knowing that if only you’d paid attention at school you’d would have a much better idea what you’re on about ....

Article
Adrenaline Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC article icon

Nature & Environment 

Adrenaline

We take a close look at adrenaline and find out how it affects fear, anxiety and even exercise

Article
Galápagos: Conservation on a World Heritage Site Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: David Robinson article icon

Nature & Environment 

Galápagos: Conservation on a World Heritage Site

What makes the Galápagos archipelago so unique and what is the impact of this uniqueness on its conservation?

Article
Across the skyline: Bird-watching in London Creative commons image Icon stevec77 under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license audio icon

Nature & Environment 

Across the skyline: Bird-watching in London

On Friday 15th October 2010 the Saving Species team met with Ian Wallace, a pioneer of ornithology in this country, on Primrose Hill, just north of Regent’s Park in London. The plan was to observe the day’s bird migration for one hour, just as Ian had done in 1960 when forty observers took on the task of counting the numbers and species of birds flying across the city    

Audio
15 mins
What is evolution? Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Kevin Renes | Dreamstime.com article icon

Nature & Environment 

What is evolution?

Stephen Serjeant explains that survival of the fittest is about reproduction more than strength

Article