Sound Analysis for Wildlife Conservation & Research

Start Date: Saturday, June 18, 2022
Instructor: Greg Budney
Fee: $495.00
Term: Summer 2022

Workshop Description

There is a reason why this workshop follows “The Natural Sound Recording Workshop”; we will be characterizing the wildlife sounds we have recorded during the week prior! If you did not attend the recording workshop, we will provide you with plenty of recordings from bats, birds, frogs, and insects for you to analyze. If you have your own media files you wish to analyze you are welcome to use those files.

This is a beginners-to-advanced workshop. We feel we need to address the physics of sound (e.g. longitudinal vs. transverse waves, SPL, near field vs. far field, Doppler effect, signal/noise ratio, impedance, etc) in order to build a strong foundation for participants to understand the many spectral and temporal measurements that one could use to appropriately characterize any given sound (there are hundreds of acoustic parameters from which to choose). 

Even when we focus our workshop on a “sound analysis from the bioacoustician’s point of view”, we will also cover sound analysis and decoding from the animal’s perspective. This is an exercise that will help us move towards a more nature-centered approach to our acoustics research. For this reason we will take some time to explore the sound production, propagation, and reception in animal species abundant in Sierra Nevada.

Finally, we will place sound analysis in the context of artificial intelligence and human computation and discuss with you the motivations for an online SaaS platform that we are currently developing for the acoustic monitoring of biodiversity. 

Participants should plan to bring a laptop computer, power supply, and headphones. The SNFC has limited bandwidth. Participants should arrive with sound analysis pre-installed on their computer. Following your registration online, instructions will be provided for how to download analysis software.

Emanuel Mora holds sound catching equipment

Instructor Bio

Dr. Emanuel C. Mora

Dr. Emanuel C. Mora emigrated from Cuba in 2016, where he was the Head of the Research Group in Bioacoustics and Neuroethology at the University of Havana. With over 50 research publications and several teaching awards and research fellowships, Dr. Mora is a passionate lecturer with an extensive background in the fields of bat echolocation, insect communication, and sound characterization and identification. He has supervised 70+ student theses on a wide range of bioacoustic topics, including vocal signatures in birds, hearing in moths and frogs, soundscapes, and artificial intelligence for the acoustic monitoring of biodiversity. You may contact Dr. Mora @

Greg Budney

Dr. Mora and Greg Budney have previously collaborated to conduct workshops in Sound Recording and Analysis in Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, and Mexico. Greg encourages student contact:



The closest major airport is Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO).  Participants should plan to arrive in Reno, Nevada on June 17, 2022.  We recommend staying at the La Quinta Inn (tel: 775-348-6100), 4001 Market St, Reno, NV 89502).  Instructors will pick-up participants at the La Quinta Inn 10:30am on June 18th for the 2 hour drive from Reno to the SFSU Sierra Nevada Field Campus.   Participants can choose to stay at other hotels or inns, however, they must get to the La Quinta by 10:30am on the 18th for the van ride to the Field Campus. 


Please arrive at the Field Campus by noon on June 18th.  Here are driving directions.  The physical address of SFSU's Sierra Nevada Field Campus is:

San Francisco State Sierra Nevada Field Campus

35400 Highway 49

Calpine, CA 96124 USA

Workshop Schedule

Please plan to arrive at the Sierra Nevada Field Campus by noon on June 18th. We'll meet informally on the dining hall deck to get acquainted. Classes will begin at 08:30 am on Sunday morning. Interactive lectures (smartphones welcome!) covering the theory of sound analysis for wildlife conservation and animal behavior will run from 08:30 until noon. Afternoon sessions from 13:30 pm to 18:00 will be devoted to hands-on practicals (laptops required!) on sound analysis. Nights (20:00 - 23:00) are reserved for informal discussions on the day’s topics and beyond.


In general, Saturday will cover sound physics, sound visualization, and manipulation of parameters to fine tune oscillograms, power spectra, and spectrograms.

Example topics:

1. What is sound and Sound visualization. 2. Frequency. 3. Sound pressure. 4. Temporal pattern. 5. Phase. 6. Speed of sound. 7. Basic formulas: F, T, C, λ. 8. Near field, far field, open field. 9. Doppler effect. 10. Sound characterization: oscilloscope and level meter. 11. AM and FM modulation. 12. Infrasound and ultrasound. 13. Noise. and Signal/Noise ratio. 14. Reflection. 15. Interference and beats. 16. Refraction. 17. Geometric attenuation. 18. Atmospheric attenuation. 19. Linear vs. Non-linear systems. 20. Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) Algorithm. 21. Computing Power spectra. 22. Building spectrograms. 23. Threshold. 24. Setting colors. 25. Contrast. 26. Choosing FFT size. 27. Overlap. 28. Windows.


  • In general, Sunday will cover acoustic parameters (amplitud, temporal, and spectral parameters). We will discuss how to chose your couple of dozens parameters from the several hundred available to you, based on your animal model and research question.

Example topics:

1. Instantaneous measurements: frequency, period and level. 2. Spectral measurements: initial, final, peak, fundamental, maximum and minimum frequencies. 3. Bandwidth and Q10-dB. 4. Time measurements: duration, interval, rise and fall times, duty cycle. 5. Level: peak, peak-to-peak, rms. 6. dB vs. dB SPL. 7. Energy distribution: percentiles. 8. Entropy. 9. Checking for errors in your measurements. 10. Computer-generated parameters. 11. Level, spectral and temporal zooming effects. 12. Subjective vs. Objective measurements. 13. Automatic measurements. 14. Spectral vs. temporal resolution: the uncertainty principle.


  • In general, Monday will cover soundscape, and sound production, propagation and reception in Sierra Nevada species. What we learned on Sunday now will serve us in understanding “the big picture” of bioacoustics in wildlife conservation and animal behavior.

Example topics:

1. What is soundscape? 2. Autonomous recorders. 3. Recording paradigms. 4. Time, frequency and space in automated sound recordings: resource partitioning. 5. Estimation of species abundance, richness, and composition. 6. Biophony, geophony and antropophony. 7. The problem of segmentation and identification. 8. Soundscape archiving: the SoundFossil. 9. Acoustic Indices for Biodiversity Assessment and Landscape Investigation. 10. Artificial Intelligence vs. Human Computation. 11. Production of vibrations. 12. Polar patterns. 13. Vocal cords, vocal sacs and syrinxes. 14. The auditory system. 15. Threshold curve. 16. Receptor cells. 17. Sensitivity, amplification and non-linearity. 18. Diversity of auditory organs: particle, pressure and pressure differential detectors. 19. Decoding frequency, time, level and localization. 20. Measuring hearing: spikes, vibration and DPOAEs. 21. Psychoacoustics.


  • In general, Tuesday will cover software review, equipment calibration, and design of bioacoustics research. We want to round up discussing the main avenues bioacoustics is currently taking, and the dos-and don’ts of a successful career or hobbyist bioacoustician.

Example topics:

1. Software for Bioacoustics: Sound visualization, exploration, measurement, classification. 2. Pros and Cons when choosing software. 3. Sound acquisition. 4. Format conversion. 5. Measurements control. 6. Top software: Avisoft, Raven, Praat, Adobe Audition, Sound Ruler, BatSound, R, Audacity. 7. Sound level meters. 8. Frequency weighting. 9. Speaker calibration: Frequency response. 10. Pistonphone. 11. Effect of polar pattern. 12. Microphone calibration. 13. Factors affecting calibration. 14. Frequency response compensation. 15. Attenuation, amplification and non-linearity. 16. Playback of FM sounds. 17. Drones for acoustic monitoring. 18. A bioacoustics research: “Bat echolocation vs. Moth hearing: acoustic tactics and countertactics in Cuba”. 19. Why ultrasound? 20. FM and CF bats. 21. Evolution of echolocation. 22. Doppler shift and intensity compensation. 23. Bat detectors: time expansion, frequency division and heterodyne. 24. Acoustic monitoring of bats.


  • 7 am Breakfast, followed immediately by departure from Field Campus for Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

Workshop Supplies List

Participants should plan to bring a laptop computer and a smartphone. In addition, a complete recording system consisting of a portable digital audio recorder, microphone with windscreen, headphones, and recording media would be welcome. If available, a mains power supply for the audio recorder is also recommended.

Lodging and Camping Supplies

Camping gear if you are staying on campus:

  • tent and sleeping pad (unless you are staying in our tent with a cot provided)
  • warm sleeping bag
  • pillow, toiletries, and towel
  • flashlight and lantern
  • alarm clock

Field gear for everyone:

  • day pack
  • sunscreen
  • insect repellant
  • water bottles
  • plastic containers for packed lunches
  • sense of humor

You might also want to bring:

  • camera
  • binoculars
  • hand lens
  • camp chair


The weather in the Sierra Nevada can vary greatly, even in a single day. Be prepared for chilly temperatures at night, even below freezing early in the summer. Rain is a possibility any time, whether forecast or not. Variable weather clothing that can be layered is best: long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, warm sweater and jacket, t-shirt and shorts or skirt, sturdy shoes or hiking boots, sun hat, rain gear, and a warm hat or gloves for cold weather and/or night activities. And, if you come later in the season, bring your swimsuit for afternoon dips in the lakes!