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The SECOND African Bioacoustics Community ONLINE Conference 2020

In a time where in-person conferences were being canceled due to the global COVID-19 crisis, 2020 saw the second African Bioacoustics Community conference push forward with a completely virtual conference, moving all presentations to an online space to keep true to the spirit of promoting bioacoustics research and networking on the African continent. 

Through this decision, we strove to be more inclusive and to ensure the health and safety of all of our delegates as we met remotely from all over the world. From our home base at Launch Lab in Stellenbosch, Western Cape, and through our Whova online platform we were still able to offer the same great opportunity to participate in the African Bioacoustics Community Conference.
We were blown away by the interest in this conference! With 80 presentations, 8 plenary talks, over 200 registered delegates, and two special sessions, our 2020 conference was a massive success!



Prof Magnus Wahlberg

Associate Professor at the University of Southern Denmark

Plenary TalkMarine Bird Hearing in Air and Underwater


Fannie Shabangu, PhD

Marine Biologist, Department of Environment, Forest and Fisheries (RSA)

Plenary TalkAcoustic Occurance and Behaviour of Marine Mammals


Prof Nicolas Mathevon

Professor at the University of Lyon, Senior Member of the Institut Universitaire de France

Plenary TalkCracking the Code of Human Baby Cries


Tess Gridley, PhD

Post Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Stellenbosch, Co-Director of Sea Search Research and Conservation and the Namibian Dolphin Project

Plenary TalkFrom the Heaviside's to the Humpback: 13 Years of Bioacoustics Research in Southern Africa

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Prof Arthur Popper

Professor Emeritus and Research Professor at the University of Maryland

Anthony Hawkins

Managing Director at Loughline Limited

Co-Plenary TalkThe Importance of Sound to Fishes

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Prof David Reby

Professor in Ethology at the Université Jean Monnet

Plenary TalkThe Evolution of Size Communication in Mammal Vocalisations


Prof Alban Lemasson

Professor at the Université de Rennes, Director of Animal and human ethology (EthoS) lab 

Martine Hausberger, PhD

Director of Research at CNRS, Head of PEGASE Research Team, Head of VOCOM International Research Network

Co-Plenary TalkRule-Governed Vocal Interaction in Birds and Primates

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Prof Alexander Kirschel

Associate Professor at the University of Cypres

Plenary TalkSong mediates the extent of reproductive isolation between tinkerbirds at contact zones



Making bioacoustic research a big noise

What is bioacoustics? Why is it important? How can I use it in my research?

It is a sad reality that in Africa, despite keen interest, few students have little or no experience in bioacoustic research. There are also students who might be wrestling with specific issues in their research and may need a helping hand yet have no access to a relevant knowledge base.


In this special session, we tackled the ins and outs of bioacoustic research for interested students who are keen to learn more. Experts presented basic concepts and applications of acoustic tools.

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Sue Anne Zollinger, PhD

Lecturer at the Manchester Metropolitan University

Session TalkAvoiding common problems and pitfalls in the measurement of frequency, duration and amplitude

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Jamie MacAulay, PhD

Post-Doc at Aarhus Univeristy

Session TalkWhy is PAM so hard?

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Prof Peter McGregor

Professor of Animal Behaviour at ISPA - Instituto Universitário, editor of Bioacoustics, co-editor of Springer’s Animal Signals & Communication series

Andy Horn, PhD

Adjunct Research Associate at Dalhousie University, American Editor of
Bioacoustics and an Editor with Animal Behaviour

Co-Session TalkHow to Publish in Bioacoustics (and Bioacoustics)

Hearing of Harms

Acoustic Monitoring for the Prevention of Illegal Activity

In many parts of Africa, and globally, illegal activity runs rampant, especially in natural areas. Animal poaching, wildlife capture for illegal trade, illegal logging in rain forests, dumping of waste, and many more. In far-removed and remote areas, these crimes often go unnoticed until it’s too late.


However, in some cases, listening in can provide a lifeline. Acoustic monitoring has proven to be an effective method of environmental protection. Ever-present ears listen for the sound of chainsaws and gunfire, often reporting the information in real-time to authorities who take action immediately. In this special session, we focused on the use of sound to protect animals and biodiversity and the people that make all this happen. 

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Ian Lester

CEO at Beyond Wireless and behind the implementation of Shot Spotter Tech in the Kruger National Park, South Africa

Session TalkDots on Maps

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Gill Braulik, PhD

Marie-Curie Research Fellow at St. Andres University

Session TalkMore Bang for your Buck: Using Acoustics to document Fishing with Explosives

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Topher White

Founder and CEO of Rainforest Connection

Session TalkAcoustics & AI for Illegal Activity Detection



3rd November 2020

Online Movie Event

As part of the African Bioacoustics Community 2020 Conference program, an Online Movie Event was organised to showcase bioacoustics in action. We received 21 submissions of bioacoustics in action, premiering 13 of them on the evening of Tuesday 3rd November 2020 from 20:00 to 22:00 SAST.

Delegates tuned in from the comfort of their own homes for some wonderful bioacoustics video content, and hilarious commentary from our conference team. We had everything, from short games to feature films to behind-the-science shots submitted by both the delegates themselves and professional filmmakers with content capturing everything from the wilds of the central African jungles to the clear waters of Cape Town. We were spoilt for choice and loved every minute of learning about different projects and research techniques from all over Africa.

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3rd November 2020

Turning Sound into Discovery:

Using Wildlife Audio Recorders as a Valuable Research Tool

Biologists from all over the world have made the Song Meter platform the standard for bioacoustics recording with over 50,000 recorders deployed in 90 countries. The first section of this product workshop, Mona Doss and Paul Howden-Leach lead us in a hands-on session teaching participants the features and setup of the Song Meter Mini and Mini Bat recorders to monitor for bats, birds, frogs, and other wildlife.

In the remainder of the workshop, our presenters spent time giving attendees a brief overview of the Kaleidoscope Pro software and analyzing biodiversity through sound.

All present thoroughly enjoyed the workshop, and we look forward to having Wildlife Acoustics join us again in the future!


4th November 2020

Combined Day of Conferencing with the Conservation Symposium

For the first time ever, the African Bioacoustics Community and the Conservation Symposium teamed up!

In this full-day combined event, conservation and bioacoustics collided to form a jam-packed day with conservation-focused bioacoustics talks attended by delegates from both conferences.

The Conservation Symposium serves as a bridge between conservation practitioners, scientists, and policymakers in a conducive environment to solve real-world problems. As conservation integrates a vast range of disciplines, from pure science to practical management and policy-making, we were privileged to have the opportunity to introduce bioacoustics as a potential conservation tool to those actively making a difference. We were honored to have them join us for this first-ever collaboration, and with a combined delegation of over 300 people, we marked the day as a huge success!

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6th November 2020

In-Person Networking Event


The African Bioacoustics Community believes that networking is vital to growing the field of bioacoustics within Africa. So despite the fact that the ABC 2020 conference in-person portion was canceled and we had to move all conference proceedings into an online space, we were still able to host a small gathering for delegates in the Western Cape area. Good food and good conversation were definitely on the menu as we met attendees that we had only previously met online. We are incredibly grateful to the Katjiepiering Restaurant at the Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens for hosting us and putting on such a good spread. 



We were very grateful to our student sponsors, the Acoustical Society of America and Loggerhead Instruments, who collectively provided support for 24 students!


Here are some testimonials from our student delegates:

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Rachel Probert

"The second African Bioacoustics Community conference was a huge success, and I am so happy that I could be a part of it. There was such a broad scope of interesting talks and posters which I feel I have learnt a lot from. The online nature of the conference did not hinder communication or discussions between presenters and attendees, which is a very important aspect of a conference, and I feel that I was still able to network with people. Being from South Africa, it was so great to see the scope of bioacoustics research that is happening in the country, as well as the rest of the continent. It was also great to connect with people outside of Africa and learn about the exciting bioacoustics research that is happening all around the world too. I would like to thank the  Acoustical Society of America for providing student support for me to attend this great conference."

Viwe Mabongo

"In the course of the conference, I learnt the different use of bioacoustics, the basics of bioacoustics and the practical applications of it in the biodiversity and conservation. I learnt the use of automatic recorders and automated detection to obtain vocalizations data in difficult terrains. I also learnt the use of passive acoustic monitoring to study the seasonal acoustics occurrence and vocalization behaviour of marine mammals. I got exposed to the significance of sound to fishes. The conference also exposed to use of acoustics to the monitoring and prevention of wildlife illegal activities i.e poaching."

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Saeed Shafiei Sabat

"I would like to thank all guys who were involved to provide and organize such scientific and friendly atmosphere at the virtual conference and made it feasible for me and other researchers to communicate and exchange ideas among researchers also I would like to thank Acoustic Society of America for their kind consideration to support and grant my registration for the virtual ABC conference 2020. I hope I did my scientific duties at the AB conference and I am looking forward to hear the next year conference advertisement."

Mar Palanca

"My research focuses on humpback whale vocalizations; that is why my advisor encouraged me to present the project at the African Bioacoustics Community Conference. This has been my first experience participating in an international scientific conference and it has been inspiring to know the diversity of people and projects presented, as well as the effort that the organizing team put on the event. Having an approach to the different perspectives of researchers from different areas of study not only nourishes me in the personal field but also helps me to have a broader perspective in my research, to know and connect with researchers and brings new insight to methodologies and study questions."

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