A roadmap for survey designs in terrestrial acoustic monitoring

Larissa Sayuri Moreira Sugai*, Camille Desjonquères, Thiago Sanna Freire Silva, Diego Llusia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) is increasingly popular in ecological research and conservation programs, with high-volume and long-term data collection provided by automatized acoustic sensors offering unprecedented opportunities for faunal and ecosystem surveys. Practitioners and newcomers interested in PAM can easily find technical specifications for acoustic sensors and microphones, but guidelines on how to plan survey designs are largely scattered over the literature. Here, we (i) review spatial and temporal sampling designs used in passive acoustic monitoring, (ii) provide a synthesis of the crucial aspects of PAM survey design and (iii) propose a workflow to optimize recording autonomy and recording schedules. From 1992 to 2018, most of the 460 studies applying PAM in terrestrial environments have used a single recorder per site, covered broad spatial scales and rotated recorders between sites to optimize sampling effort. Continuous recording of specific diel periods was the main recording procedure used. When recording schedules were applied, a larger number of recordings per hour was generally associated with a smaller recording length. For PAM survey design, we proposed to (i) estimate memory/battery autonomy and associated costs, (ii) assess signal detectability to optimize recording schedules in order to recover maximum biological information and (iii) evaluate cost-benefit scenarios between sampling effort and budget to address potential biases from a given PAM survey design. Establishing standards for PAM data collection will improve the quality of inferences over the broad scope of PAM research and promote essential standardization for cross-scale research to understand long-term biodiversity trends in a changing world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-235
Number of pages16
JournalRemote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation
Issue number3
Early online date13 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Acoustic monitoring
  • Acoustic recorders
  • Recording schedules
  • Recording settings
  • Temporal sampling
  • Wildlife survey


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