Localize Animal Sound Events Reliably (LASER): A New Software for Sound Localization in Zoos

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Sebastian Schneider, Paul Wilhelm Dierkes
Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens
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Locating a vocalizing animal can be useful in many fields of bioacoustics and behavioral research, and is often done in the wild, covering large areas. In zoos, however, the application of this method becomes particularly difficult, because, on the one hand, the animals are in a relatively small area and, on the other hand, reverberant environments and background noise complicate the analysis. Nevertheless, by localizing and analyzing animal sounds, valuable information on physiological state, sex, subspecies, reproductive state, social status, and animal welfare can be gathered. Therefore, we developed a sound localization software that is able to estimate the position of a vocalizing animal precisely, making it possible to assign the vocalization to the corresponding individual, even under difficult conditions. In this study, the accuracy and reliability of the software is tested under various conditions. Different vocalizations were played back through a loudspeaker and recorded with several microphones to verify the accuracy. In addition, tests were carried out under real conditions using the example of the giant otter enclosure at Dortmund Zoo, Germany. The results show that the software can estimate the correct position of a sound source with a high accuracy (median of the deviation 0.234 m). Consequently, this software could make an important contribution to basic research via position determination and the associated differentiation of individuals, and could be relevant in a long-term application for monitoring animal welfare in zoos.


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