The researchers trained artificial intelligence to assess the well-being of coral reefs by their soundscapes. The accuracy of the algorithm reaches 92%, it will allow you to easily and quickly track the status of reefs that are under threat of extinction due to climate change and human activities.
Each coral reef has its own complex soundscape. Scientists have even tried to judge the condition of reefs based on how they sound. Now researchers from the University of Exeter (UK) have shown that artificial intelligence can handle this task.
They trained a computer algorithm using several audio recordings of healthy and endangered reefs. Then the AI analyzed many unfamiliar records and successfully determined the state of the reef in 92% of cases. The algorithm is described in an article in the journal Ecological Indicators.
Coral reefs around the world today face multiple threats, especially global warming and human impacts. Therefore, it is extremely important to monitor their condition and evaluate the success of various coral reef conservation projects. One of the difficulties of their study is that the methods of visual and acoustic studies are usually quite laborious.
Visual studies are limited by the fact that many coral reef dwellers avoid humans, while others are active at night. Fish and other inhabitants of the reef make a wide range of different sounds. However, acoustic research is complicated by the fact that the meaning of many of these sounds remains a mystery to scientists. Artificial intelligence coped with this task: it was able to capture and identify patterns that are indistinguishable to the human ear, and based on them determine the state of the reef.
The recordings used in the study were made by the Mars Coral Reef Restoration Project. The project is also involved in the restoration of severely damaged coral reefs in Indonesia.
The new method will provide more opportunities to improve monitoring of reefs and determine the success of their restoration. In many cases, it is easier and cheaper to install an underwater hydrophone on a reef and leave it there than to invite divers to survey reefs, especially in hard-to-reach places.