Oct 2019: How bioacoustics can transform conservation (Palo Alto)

A conversation with University of Wisconsin soundscape ecologist Zuzana Burivalova, Conservation Metrics CEO Matthew McKown, and Mongabay Founder Rhett A. Butler on the potential for bioacoustics to improve conservation outcomes. This Mongabay WildTech / Bay Area Tropical Forest Network event is generously being hosted by the Palo Alto Patagonia store.

Satellites have revolutionized forest monitoring, but there remains a major gap in biodiversity monitoring since we can’t directly measure factors like hunting, sub-canopy fires, and degradation very well from space. Bioacoustics — the use of sound recorders in nature — can help fill the gap. By capturing an entire soundscape, they can document a wide range of animals and detect very minor changes in ecological communities. They can also be useful for real-time interdiction by detecting gunshots, chainsaws, and the sound of motorbikes and truck engines and relaying alerts to local communities or authorities.

But the really exciting aspect comes from making audio data available to scientists. The beauty of bioacoustic data is researchers can run algorithms to map soundscapes, allowing us to better understand ecological communities, what works and what doesn’t work in conservation, and track biodiversity trends.

The combination of networked bioacoustic devices and camera traps could eventually transform the field of conservation.


  • Dr. Zuzana Burivalova, field ecologist at University of Wisconsin and lead author of a 2019 Science paper on bioacoustics
  • Dr. Matthew McKown, CEO of Conservation Metrics, a company that provides automated alternatives to historically labor-intensive wildlife survey efforts, combining cutting-edge remote sensing technology, statistical rigor, and extensive scientific expertise to drive down costs and increase the scale and effectiveness of wildlife metrics.


  • Rhett A. Butler, founder of Mongabay, a conservation news platform

Doors open at 7pm for snacks, beverages, and networking. The discussion panel starts at 7:30pm.

Space is limited so please RSVP to reserve your spot.


Event photos and video.