Protocol for Site Characterization


Species occurrence and detectability patterns are often strongly associated with certain environmental and climatic variables. Some sensitive bird species, for instance, prefer pristine and tall tropical forests sites and avoid open areas.  Therefore, detailed information about the environmental and climatic variables of a particular habitat or site can help biologists identify and predict species occurrences. 

For projects in which the RFCx Science Team will detect species in audio recordings, the RFCx Science Team needs information about the environmental characteristics of the sampling sites. Because species occurrence and detectability are often strongly influenced by environmental and climatic variables such as vegetation type and precipitation, a detailed description of the site's environmental conditions will help our Science Team identify species with higher precision and accuracy. 


The RFCx Science team asks that partners collect detailed environmental information concerning the location of device installation. Please follow the following steps to collect basic environmental data for each sampling site.

Step 1: Take photos from the sampling site(s) when deploying your device. Upload these photos to your Arbimon project using the Add Photo(s) option during AudioMoth Setup (see this article), or send them to the RFCx via email or another method. If possible, take the photo horizontally with the camera or mobile phone, capturing as much of the location as possible as a landscape photo. Below are some examples:

Step 2: Send RFCx a detailed description of the sampling site(s). Information such as the type of environment (e.g., forest, grassland, lake) is essential. If possible, describe what the local vegetation looks like, whether it is more open or dense (e.g., tall forest with several large trees, dense vegetation on the ground, and many plants that appear to be of the same species, the recorder was installed near a stream, etc.).

Example of a table for use in the field to characterize the sites.

Site name:
Photos taken: (note the file name for easy uploading to the correct site. E.g., IMG_001)
Site description:
Additional notes: