How do you count elephants in the jungles of Africa? You can either collect their excrement or you can listen. No, seriously. The Elephant Listening Project at Cornell University has figured out how to count elephants using acoustic monitoring.
Rather than wasting time, funds, and personnel in attempts to canvas entire jungles for an elephant census, researchers are simply setting up microphones. This bioacoustic monitoring technique is similar to what has been used in the past, on a smaller scale, to count birds, but in this case it's covering hundreds of square miles.
Researchers prepared by manually counting elephants and observing the sounds they make in order to create a system to interpret the sounds captured by the jungle microphones. It must've been a tedious bit of preparation, but if the alternative is "dung survey transects," I think those folks were more than happy to do it. [Elephant Listening Project via Wired]
Photo by exfordy