The Cacophony Project

About this group

The Cacophony Project is based on the idea that in New Zealand the louder the local "dawn chorus" - the cacophony of  calls made by the local bird population as it starts its day - the healthier the local ecosystem.

When Europeans first arrived in New Zealand, the chorus was described as "deafening". Today, introduced predators and exotic species have radically changed the character of most of our country's ecosystems, and sadly the modern dawn chorus is decidedly less raucous.

Some of us want the places we love restored to a healthier, more balanced state, where our indigenous flora and fauna can thrive again.

Some self-appointed ecosystem guardians with a technical bent have started the Cacophony Project to build a community of interested participants around a set of clever tools which we will design and build in collaboration with the people participating in this Online Group.

With your help, we want the Cacophony Project's open source tool set to allow us to

  • use our innovative "cacophonometers" - a low-cost autonomous recording device - to build up a huge data set of dawn chorus recordings from ecosystems around the country over time,
  • provide access to that dataset for processing and analysis by anyone with an interest,
  • verify whether or not the dawn chorus volume is, in fact, an indicator of ecosystem health,
  • measure the success of various ecosystem rehabilitation activities we undertake, and
  • ultimately to let us monitor the relative "health" of our local environments in many parts of the country.

Eventually, we hope our scientific collaborators will help us develop methods to do things like determine the presence or absence of individual species of native and exotic birds lending their voices to the chorus, to give us an accurate (and calibrated!) measure of the biodiversity throughout the country.

There may yet be other reasons it would be valuable to have a record of the dawn chorus in various places around the country, and how it changes over time which we haven't yet identified. By collecting the data, we can being creating a resource which may have untold value in the years to come, but which could never be realised without first collecting it.

We'd love to have your participation in the Cacophony Project! Everything is open source and we welcome ideas, promotion, and ideally you flexing your intellectual/technical muscles to help us achieve our aims. That said, we ask only that you contribute in the ways you that provide you with the greatest satisfaction.

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