Congo Soundscapes – Public Database

The Goal: expanding understanding of biodiversity through sound

Background:

Many of the most biodiverse ecosystems left on the planet are poorly studied, highly threatened, and in need of information that can be helpful in moving toward better protection and management. As part of the Elephant Listening Project’s efforts to better understand the ecology of forest elephant movements, and the spatial and temporal pattern of poaching, we have recorded the rainforest’s sounds 24/7 at many places in Central Africa. But we only extract a tiny bit of the rich information that is contained in these continuous recordings, now representing more than 1 million hours of the sounds of birds, primates, insects, frogs, you name it. If it makes sound, we record it.

In order to make this rich acoustic data available to anyone who would like to mine it, we have partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to make sounds available in the cloud, using their object storage service, S3. While the raw sound files are available for download, AWS also provides access to flexible cloud computing resources in the form of EC2 instances. Especially after exploring a subset of the sound files we are making available, users may want to consider analyzing large portions of these data using an AWS EC2 instance because data transfer will be extremely fast between S3 and EC2 compared to downloading the data to a local machine. An additional benefit of using EC2 for analyses is access to instances with more powerful computing resources than a desktop or laptop. Depending on the type of sound analysis desired, working with the Nouabalé-Ndoki dataset can be extremely memory intensive, for example, running detectors or quantifying noise profiles. Just one possibility, for example, would be to use RStudio, with associated acoustic analysis packages (see Louis Aslett’s detailed guide for setting up RStudio on an AWS EC2 instance).

The Sounds:

This is a very simple dataset, comprised almost entirely of 24-hr, 8kHz, 16-bit audio recordings in .wav format recorded on an acoustic grid in northern Republic of Congo (Figure 1). Collection of these data was made possible through collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Nouabalé-Ndoki Foundation, who together administer activities in the national park and surrounds. Funding for this project includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Born Free Foundation, and Lisa Yang.

The landscape is lowland tropical rainforest comprised of a number of forest types including mixed semi-evergreen forest, monodominant Gilbertiodendron forest, and swamp forest. Fifty acoustic units were placed using a stratified random sampling method on a grid of 25 km2 cells.

Figure 1. Location of recording grid in Africa (upper left) and location of 50 recording sites in the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park and adjacent forestry concession in northern Congo (right). ‘Mbeli’ and ‘Goualougo’ are research camps in the national park with permanent staff. ‘Camp Bonio’ is an old hunting camp in the forestry concession (slightly shaded area south of the river near Mbeli camp and south of acoustic unit 4e). Slightly more than half of the recording sites are in the national park. Coverage Extent: Because of ongoing elephant poaching in this area, exact locations of recording units will be provided only on specific request from researchers. The rectangular extent of the entire grid is latitude 1.89020 to 2.32474, longitude 16.44315 to 16.74016 (WGS84).

License:

These sound files are freely available for scientific study and exploration, including for the development of detection algorithms.
These sounds are not available for any media use including advertising, promotion, radio or movie production, etc. without express permission from the owners.

Recorder Description and Placement:

Archive structure and filenames:

Metadata:

Geographic Extent: latitude 1.89020 to 2.32474, longitude 16.44315 to 16.74016 (WGS84)

Site Habitat (at recorder site) Protection
nn01a Gilbertiodendron (mono-dominant); very tall canopy, sparse understory national park
nn01c mixed forest-closed national park
nn01d mixed forest-closed national park
nn01e mixed forest-closed national park
nn01f Gilbertiodendron (mono-dominant); very tall canopy, sparse understory national park
nn01g Gilbertiodendron (mono-dominant); very tall canopy, sparse understory national park
nn02a Gilbertiodendron (mono-dominant); very tall canopy, sparse understory national park
nn02b mixed forest-closed national park
nn02c Gilbertiodendron (mono-dominant); very tall canopy, sparse understory national park
nn02d mixed forest-closed national park
nn02e mixed forest-closed national park
nn02f mixed forest-closed national park
nn02g mixed forest-open national park
nn03a mixed forest-closed national park
nn03b Gilbertiodendron (mono-dominant); very tall canopy, sparse understory national park
nn03c Gilbertiodendron (mono-dominant); very tall canopy, sparse understory national park
nn03d mixed forest-closed national park
nn03e Gilbertiodendron (mono-dominant); very tall canopy, sparse understory national park
nn03f swamp forest national park
nn03g mixed forest-closed national park
nn04a foret mixte national park
nn04b mixed forest-closed national park
nn04c mixed forest-closed national park
nn04d Gilbertiodendron (mono-dominant); very tall canopy, sparse understory logging – active 2017-2018
nn04e mixed forest-open logging – active 2017-2018
nn04f mixed forest-closed logging – active 2017-2018
nn05a mixed forest-closed national park
nn05b mixed forest-closed national park
nn05c mixed forest-closed logging – active 2017-2018
nn05d mixed forest-closed logging – active 2017-2018
nn05e swamp forest logging – active 2017-2018
nn05f mixed forest-closed logging – active 2017-2018
nn06a Gilbertiodendron (mono-dominant); very tall canopy, sparse understory logging – long inactive
nn06b mixed forest-closed national park
nn06c Gilbertiodendron (mono-dominant); very tall canopy, sparse understory national park
nn06d mixed forest-closed de marantacees logging – active 2017-2018
nn06e Gilbertiodendron (mono-dominant); very tall canopy, sparse understory logging – active 2017-2018
nn06f Gilbertiodendron (mono-dominant); very tall canopy, sparse understory logging – active 2017-2018
nn07a mixed forest-closed logging – long inactive
nn07b mixed forest-closed logging – long inactive
nn07c Gilbertiodendron (mono-dominant); very tall canopy, sparse understory national park
nn08a mixed forest-open logging – long inactive
nn08b mixed forest-closed logging – long inactive
nn08c swamp forest logging – long inactive
nn09a Gilbertiodendron (mono-dominant); very tall canopy, sparse understory logging – long inactive
nn09b mixed forest-closed logging – long inactive
nn09c mixed forest-closed logging – long inactive
nn10a mixed forest-open logging – long inactive
nn10b Gilbertiodendron (mono-dominant); very tall canopy, sparse understory logging – long inactive