Automated classification of bird and amphibian calls using machine learning: A comparison of methods

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We compared the ability of three machine learning algorithms (linear discriminant analysis, decision tree, and support vector machines) to automate the classification of calls of nine frogs and three bird species. In addition, we tested two ways of characterizing each call to train/test the system. Calls were characterized with four standard call variables (minimum and maximum frequencies, call duration and maximum power) or eleven variables that included three standard call variables (minimum and maximum frequencies, call duration) and a coarse representation of call structure (frequency of maximum power in eight segments of the call). A total of 10,061 isolated calls were used to train/test the system. The average true positive rates for the three methods were: 94.95% for support vector machine (0.94% average false positive rate), 89.20% for decision tree (1.25% average false positive rate) and 71.45% for linear discriminant analysis (1.98% average false positive rate). There was no statistical difference in classification accuracy based on 4 or 11 call variables, but this efficient data reduction technique in conjunction with the high classification accuracy of the SVM is a promising combination for automated species identification by sound. By combining automated digital recording systems with our automated classification technique, we can greatly increase the temporal and spatial coverage of biodiversity data collection.