Localising bitterns Botaurus stellaris with an array of non-linked microphones

M. Wahlberg, J. Tougaard, B. Møhl (2003). Localising bitterns Botaurus stellaris with an array of non-linked microphones. Bioacoustics, Volume 13 (3): 233 -245

Some animals emit sounds usable for acoustic monitoring of their population size. Such signals should be loud, omni-directional and easy to recognise and localise. Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris mating calls (booms) are known to be loud and probably omni-directional but there is no data on acoustic localisation of this species. We made recordings of bittern booms with a 4-element GPS-linked microphone array, calibrated for absolute sound pressure level measurements. Receiver spacing was 65 to 294 m. The source level was 101 ± 3 dB re 20 µPa @ 1 m. The source level did not vary more than 7 dB for the same boom recorded at two different locations, with angular separations of 3º-27º as seen from the source. The geometric transmission loss was close to spherical, and the excess attenuation was much smaller than what was expected from the prevailing temperature and humidity conditions. The prevailing wind conditions caused sound velocity variations of up to 3%. The source location error was 104 ± 113 m (mean ± 1 s.d.). The prevalence of large location errors was probably caused by problems of discerning the direct path from multipath arrivals of the signal at the receivers and by sound velocity variations.


acoustic array, acoustic source location, acoustic census, bittern boom, GPS