Connor Wood, Ph.D.

Connor Wood checking the recording settings on a SWIFT unit.
Connor Wood checking the recording settings on a SWIFT unit.

I am the leader of the BirdNET Ecology Team. My research focuses on biodiversity conservation through the combination of bioacoustics and quantitative ecology; various forms of the BirdNET algorithm – which can currently identify over 3,000 birds by sound – underpin much of my work. My work on landscape-scale acoustic monitoring has three themes: endangered species conservationcommunity ecology, and the development of novel methodologiesCommunity-driven science is my second broad research area, a bottom-up approach to conservation that prioritizes the needs, interests, and values of people outside the traditional research apparatus.

Connor Wood GPS tagging a spotted owl
Connor Wood GPS tagging a spotted owl

My primary project is the Sierra Nevada acoustic monitoring program, which I began in 2016 as a Ph.D. student with Dr. Zach Peery at UW-Madison. At the beginning, it focused on Spotted Owls and an invasive competitor, the Barred Owl in the northern third of the region. The project enabled the successful eradication of the Barred Owl from the Sierra Nevada, averting the near-certain collapse of the California Spotted Owl population and widespread trophic cascades. Now, the monitoring program encompasses over 18,000 km2 across the entire Sierra Nevada, generates 1,000,000 hours of audio annually, and yields data on over 200 species of bird. With funding from NASA and other sources, we are developing cutting-edge tools to enable the conservation of a magnificent ecosystem that is on the brink of total transformation. Broadly, I am studying species richness with high resolution and landscape scales with an emphasis on conservation applications.

Spotted Owls remain a priority species; others include the Yosemite Toad, the gray wolf, and the Yucatan black howler monkey. Yet—as the Sierra Nevada project is demonstrating—BirdNET has enabled me to look beyond single-species conservation to study how whole communities respond to ecological disturbances. By working closely with managers and policy-makers, I hope that community-level research can inform holistic ecosystem management.

At present, I am primarily using the BirdNET app as a tool for community-driven science. My approach is to develop flexible tools that people can use as they see fit; my priority is supporting projects related to land sovereignty and sustainable development.

Year Hired: 2020

Contact Information
K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
Phone: +1-607.254.6250

Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 2020
M.Sc., University of Maine
B.A., Middlebury College

Other: Website, Google Scholar