Blind location and separation of callers in a natural chorus using a microphone array.

Douglas L. Jones, Rama Ratnam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Male frogs and toads call in dense choruses to attract females. Determining the vocal interactions and spatial distribution of the callers is important for understanding acoustic communication in such assemblies. It has so far proved difficult to simultaneously locate and recover the vocalizations of individual callers. Here a microphone-array technique is developed for blindly locating callers using arrival-time delays at the microphones, estimating their steering-vectors, and recovering the calls with a frequency-domain adaptive beamformer. The technique exploits the time-frequency sparseness of the signal space to recover sources even when there are more sources than sensors. The method is tested with data collected from a natural chorus of Gulf Coast toads (Bufo valliceps) and Northern cricket frogs (Acris crepitans). A spatial map of locations accurate to within a few centimeters is constructed, and the individual call waveforms are recovered for nine individual animals within a 9 x 9 m(2). These methods work well in low reverberation when there are no reflectors other than the ground. They will require modifications to incorporate multi-path propagation, particularly for the estimation of time-delays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)895-910
Number of pages16
JournalThe Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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