Are automated acoustic identification software reliable for bat surveys in the Neotropical region?
Bat populations are known to be affected by anthropogenic activities because bats are an extremely diverse group occupying almost all available niches in terrestrial environment. Hence, bats are considered bioindicators to monitor changes in the environment, but their value as such also depends on the ease to monitor and detect demographic trends in their populations. The long-term interest of researchers in the acoustic of bats results from the fact that it is a non-invasive, time-efficient
... , time-efficient method to monitor spatiotemporal patterns of bat diversity and activity.The analysis of sounds emitted by organisms has been considered useful to gain insight into species-specific biotic and abiotic interactions, which can further be applied to conservation. Besides manual identifications of bat calls, some automated species identification programs using regional call classifiers have been introduced into the market as an effective tool in the monitoring of bat populations. Most of these programs have not been validated using field data. This study evaluates the reliability of two automated software, SonoChiro, and Kaleidoscope Pro, in comparison to manual identifications of field data collected from the Neotropical region. There was low agreement between the two automated methods at the species level, fair agreement at the genus level and moderate agreement at the family level. There was also a significant difference between the proportions of correctly identified calls of the two-automated software at the species level identifications. Major challenges for using automated identification software include the need for comprehensive call libraries of the regions under scope; significant opportunities, on the other hand, include the widespread possibility to monitor spatiotemporal patterns of bat activity. Overall, there are serious gaps that preclude a widespread application of automated programs ecological and conservation studies of bats, but it has the potential to serve as a useful tool.