Funded Projects

In November 2021 UKAN+ opened our first public call. The award was to provide funding to address the Acoustics Research Priorities which UKAN+ identified.  Ultimately, the best projects were those which were ‘high risk, high reward’ and have potential as the basis or act as a springboard for new, exciting translational research with real industrial application, societal potential or which can lead to large-scale proposals for follow-on research funding.

2 independent Workshops preceded the opening of the call, 85 individuals were invited to attend. A total budget of £200,000 was allocated to the first call. 36 applications were received, 2 Knowledge Transfers, 2 Network projects and 32 Pilots. According to the latest figures from UK Research and Innovation, the success rate across all its competitive funding programmes was 21 per cent in 2020-21. At 19.4%, UKAN+ success rate in its first year was just slightly lower.

Three ‘Pilot/Explorative Projects’ were funded up to maximum 60k at 80% FEC, funding provided by UKAN+ will be a maximum of £48k.


Toward a Measure of Soundscape Dynamical Acoustic Complexity using Causal Analysis and AI

Project Investigator: Dr Alice Eldridge

Monitoring, understanding, and predicting the integrity of our planetary biosphere is one of the most critical sustainability issue of our time. The emerging science of Ecoacoustics points to the exciting possibility that eavesdropping on ecosystems may help. The soundscape is a highly dynamic pattern, which emerges from the interaction of the sounds of organisms, physical and technological processes: bees buzzing, birds and bats calling, fish whooping, wind howling, waves crashing and motors throbbing. The soundscape both reflects and influences ecosystem-level behaviours. By analysing soundscape recordings we can predict indicators of ecosystem health such as biodiversity or ecological status. However, current methods analyse short, independent sounds. One can’t appreciate a symphony by listening to isolated fragments; how might we measure the quality of the emergent ecological symphony as a whole?

Bioacoustic monitoring using drones

Project Investigator: Dr. Lin Wang

Wildlife population monitoring is a major challenge in the context of global biodiversity loss. With the capability of flying over hard-to-reach terrains, drones promise solutions to such monitoring problems. This project conducts pilot research to investigate the potential of using drones for monitoring acoustically active species, such as birds and bats. A major obstacle to address will be the ego-noise generated by the rotating motors and propellers, which leads to extremely low signal-to-noise ratio at airborne microphones if the drone captures wildlife vocalization from a large distance. The project aims to develop a drone audition prototype system for bioacoustic monitoring and address the challenging ego-noise suppression problem. The project has three objectives. 1) To develop a hardware prototype that captures environmental sound with an audio recorder carried by a quadcopter drone; 2) to collect wildlife vocalization dataset with the developed prototype; and 3) to develop wildlife species detection and identification algorithm in the presence of ego-noise.

The project is led by Dr Lin Wang and Dr Axel Rossberg from Queen Mary University of London, and collaborated with Ecology Services Uk Ltd and Bat Conservation Trust.

Acoustic attenuation using advanced nanoporous materials

Project Investigator: Dr Yueting Sun

The group of Dr Yueting Sun at the University of Birmingham teamed up with Dr Jason Raymond and Dr James Kwan at the Oxford Physical Acoustics Laboratory to investigate the potential of using advanced nanoporous materials for acoustic attenuations. Sponge-like materials such as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and zeolites offer extremely small pores that are comparable to the size of water molecules. Squeezing liquid water into these tiny nanopores can create large solid-liquid interfaces and dissipate huge amount of mechanical energy. The team will carry out a feasibility study to see how this process can be triggered by acoustic excitations and exploit these materials to attenuate acoustic waves.

Developing best-practice guidelines to integrate long-term ecoacoustic methods into UK biodiversity monitoring

Project Investigator: Dr. Oliver Metcalf (ECR)

PI: Dr. Oliver Metcalf (ECR), Postdoctoral Research Associate, Manchester Metropolitan University, UKAN+ Bioacoustics SIG ERC Representative

Co-investigator: Carlos Abrahams (ECR), Director of Bioacoustics at Baker Consultants, and Senior Lecturer at Nottingham Trent University

Biodiversity monitoring is critical to address the climate and biodiversity crises, providing vital information on wildlife populations, shifting distributions, habitat quality and ecosystem functions. Acoustic monitoring facilitates a range of novel methods to make biodiversity monitoring both accurate and cost-effective at large temporal and spatial scales. Within the UK, there is an increasing need to apply these methods of long time periods and in a standardised manner that can be permanently archived, be used in a variety of ways, and that minimises observer biases. However, the opportunity to use these highly effective and cost-saving survey methods is constrained by the lack of good practice guidance for the delivery of ecoacoustic monitoring projects. This Knowledge Transfer Partnership is establishing best practice guidelines for long-term monitoring. It will provide example case studies that illustrate the potential of the methods, and focus firmly on the identified needs from agri-environment, rewilding and BNG - although not be limited to these. The final output of the project will be a published ‘how to’ manual, accessible to practitioners, which provides clear instructions on implementing an ecoacoustic monitoring programme.