Automatic Detection and Compression for Passive Acoustic Monitoring of the African Forest Elephant


  • Johan Bjorck Cornell University
  • Brendan H. Rappazzo Cornell University
  • Di Chen Cornell University
  • Richard Bernstein Cornell University
  • Peter H. Wrege Cornell University
  • Carla P. Gomes Cornell University



In this work, we consider applying machine learning to the analysis and compression of audio signals in the context of monitoring elephants in sub-Saharan Africa. Earth’s biodiversity is increasingly under threat by sources of anthropogenic change (e.g. resource extraction, land use change, and climate change) and surveying animal populations is critical for developing conservation strategies. However, manually monitoring tropical forests or deep oceans is intractable. For species that communicate acoustically, researchers have argued for placing audio recorders in the habitats as a costeffective and non-invasive method, a strategy known as passive acoustic monitoring (PAM). In collaboration with conservation efforts, we construct a large labeled dataset of passive acoustic recordings of the African Forest Elephant via crowdsourcing, compromising thousands of hours of recordings in the wild. Using state-of-the-art techniques in artificial intelligence we improve upon previously proposed methods for passive acoustic monitoring for classification and segmentation. In real-time detection of elephant calls, network bandwidth quickly becomes a bottleneck and efficient ways to compress the data are needed. Most audio compression schemes are aimed at human listeners and are unsuitable for low-frequency elephant calls. To remedy this, we provide a novel end-to-end differentiable method for compression of audio signals that can be adapted to acoustic monitoring of any species and dramatically improves over naive coding strategies.





How to Cite

Bjorck, J., Rappazzo, B. H., Chen, D., Bernstein, R., Wrege, P. H., & Gomes, C. P. (2019). Automatic Detection and Compression for Passive Acoustic Monitoring of the African Forest Elephant. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 33(01), 476-484.



AAAI Special Technical Track: AI for Social Impact