Posted in | News | Agricultural Robotics

AI Systems Recognize Tropical Rainforest Biodiversity

Among the most extensive environments on Earth are tropical forests. They have a remarkably diverse range of species and are important to both the global carbon cycle and the climate. However, overexploitation and deforestation are prevalent issues in many tropical forest regions.

AI Systems Recognize Tropical Rainforest Biodiversity

The Banded Ground Cocoo (Neomorphus radiolosus, left) and the Purple Chested Hummingbird (Polyerata rosenbergi) are among the birds recorded in tropical reforestation plots in Ecuador. Image Credit: John Rogers/Martin Schaefer

Therefore, the importance of reforested regions in the tropics for biodiversity and the climate is growing. It is possible to keep a close eye on the degree of biodiversity development in these places by using automated animal sound analysis. Researchers published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Recordings on Former Cocoa Plantations and Pastures

The crew, which was a part of the DFG research group Reassembly, worked on defunct cocoa plantations and pastures in northern Ecuador, where the forest is slowly returning. There, they looked at the possibility of using artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous sound recorders to autonomously identify the species groups of mammals, birds, and amphibians.

The research results show that the sound data reflect excellently the return of biodiversity in abandoned agricultural areas.

Jörg Müller, Head, Ecological Station Fabrikschleichach, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

The study was conducted under the direction of Müller and his colleague Oliver Mitesser.

Overall, communities of vocalizing species mimic recolonization quite effectively–because the communities precisely follow the recovery gradients. A preliminary collection of 70 artificial intelligence bird models was able to characterize the whole species communities of birds, amphibians, and several calling mammals. Even nocturnal insect modifications might be meaningfully connected with them.

AI Models are Being Further Refined

The team is currently focusing on refining and increasing the variety of AI models used. The goal is to be able to automatically record even more species. The concepts will also be used in other protected places in Ecuador, including the Sailershausen JMU Forest and the Bavarian Forest, Germany’s oldest national park.

Our AI models can be the basis for a very universal tool for monitoring biodiversity in reforested areas,” Müller noted.

The Würzburg professor envisions potential uses, such as certifications or biodiversity credits. Biodiversity credits work in the same way as carbon emissions trading works. They are provided by programs that aim to preserve or promote biodiversity. They are acquired by organizations or companies seeking to offset the harmful effects of their operations.

Sponsors and Participants

The study was carried out within the framework of the German Research Foundation (DFG)-funded research group Reassembly.

In addition to the JMU researchers, ornithologist Dr Martin Schaefer, managing director of the nature conservation foundation Jocotoco, and Professor Nico Blüthgen from the Technical University of Darmstadt - the DFG research group's spokesperson and a JMU alumnus–were also involved.

Professor Zuzana Burivalova of the University of Madison (USA) and Rainforest Connection, a startup that specializes in AI models for tropical bird detection, also contributed.

Journal Reference

Müller, J., et al. (2023) Soundscapes and deep learning enable tracking biodiversity recovery in tropical forests. Nature Communications. doi:10.1038/s41467-023-41693-w

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.