Posts By / akorstjens

Asian Elephant Acoustic Monitoring

Wild Sumatran Elephant recorded on BU trail camera. Project by BU PhD student Helen Slater (Pippa Gillingham & Amanda Korstjens), in collaboration with Invisible Flock.

Elephants live in complex societies with a rich array of social interactions and a sophisticated communication system that includes extensive use of audible and infra sounds. Eavesdropping on their long and short-range vocal communication may be a way to help us monitor wellbeing for captive elephants, understand population sizes of wild elephants and even help us monitor the movements of wild elephants approaching human settlements and fields. Our multi-disciplinary team is interested in developing the tools and methods for passive acoustic monitoring of elephants for a range of applications as part of a new collaboration including researchers, technologists, conservationists and artists.

We are looking for an enthusiastic, independent, MRes student to join us to study acoustic communication and behaviour of captive Asian elephants, Elephas maximus. The aim of this one-year research project is to identify whether passive acoustic monitoring can play a role in monitoring captive elephant wellbeing and activity. The project involves studying behaviour and vocalisations of the Asian elephant herd at Whipsnade zoo, Zoological Society London. Preferred course start April 2021 – other options can be discussed.

Project page:

We are also happy to discuss a longer-term project at the level of a self-funded MPhil or PhD.


Amanda Korstjens, akorstjens @

Kathy Hodder, khodder @

Lewis Rowden, at ZSL

Alasdair Davies, Arribada at ZSL

Full research team:

Victoria Pratt and Ben Eaton from Invisible Flock

Tom Davis, Bournemouth University

MRes course at Bournemouth University

Doing an MRes degree at Bournemouth University allows you to focus on research, which you write up as a thesis, without completing coursework, although you will also have the benefit of a small number of mandatory skills workshops.

At the start of the project, you will discuss your development goals and requirements with your supervisory team, and we will provide you with relevant training opportunities. This project offers the opportunity to learn skills in animal behaviour data collection and analyses with experts in the field. You will also have the opportunity to learn more about developing low-cost acoustic devices, collecting and analysing sound recordings, and can join in public engagement activities.

You will become a member of the Bournemouth University Postgraduate Researcher group (PhD, MPhil and MRes students), where you fall under the support from our doctoral college. At the university you are part of the Life and Environmental Sciences Department where we have an inclusive welcoming team of scientists working on a wide breadth of research in biological and ecological subjects (LES).

Start Date: April 2021 (preferably)

Contact: please contact Amanda Korstjens if you have any questions about this opportunity. akorstjens @ (without the spaces)

Some further information on the work we do:

Elephant research at Bournemouth University: ZSL Research:

Arribada Initiative:

Invisible Flock: Inaudible Science-art collaboration:

You will become a member of the LEAP research group, you can find completed MRes and PhD theses of the LEAP team here:

Details on the MRes scheme and links to how to Apply can be found here:

Application page link (please check the general course information pages first).


We will provide equipment.

We cannot fund accommodation, fees or stipend.

We will support and train you in preparing external funding bids.

Sumatran Elephant by @AHKorstjens

Sumatran Elephant by @AHKorstjens


Using LiDAR and imagery from drone systems to map forests in Indonesia

Update on progress of our LEAP: Landscape Ecology and Primatology research group at Bournemouth University.

EU-funded postdoc Cici Alexander completed her 2 year position ( with Ross Hill and Amanda Korstjens in September 2017. It was sad to see her go but it’s fantastic to see her four papers all accepted and online now.  Cici analysed LiDAR and UAV imaging data to identify trees and forest structural characteristics for the tropical forests that LEAP works at in Indonesia. Our papers are online and open access (although 1 only via BU’s BRIAN):

The work continues in collaboration with our charity partners (Matt Nowak, Graham Usher, Dr. Gabriella Fredriksson) at Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, and Prof Serge Wich from Liverpool John Moores University as well as Dr Abdullah from our international partner Universitas Syiah Kuala. Authors of the completed papers also include Emma Hankinson and MRes student Nathan Harrison.

  1. Alexander, C., Korstjens, A.H., Usher, G., Nowak, M., Fredriksson, G. and Hill, R.A., 2018. LiDAR patch metrics for object-based clustering of forest types in a tropical rainforest. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 73, 253-261. PDF open access on the journal’s website

In this most recent paper, we identify habitat types using LiDAR data from Batang Toru, Sumatra, Indonesia where the newly identified and highly threatened Tapanuli orangutans occur and a planned dam is threatening the ecosystem.
















Fig. 6.  Vertical profiles through the point cloud from an area of 500 m × 20 m with all the six clusters (A), with the three shortest clusters (B) and the three tallest clusters (C), with points extracted from the Digital Terrain Model (black); Sample height profiles based on ALS point cloud (40 m × 20 m) are also shown.

2. Alexander, C., Korstjens, A.H., Hankinson, E., Usher, G., Harrison, N., Nowak, M., Abdullah, A., Wich, S.A. and Hill, R.A., 2018. Locating emergent trees in a tropical rainforest using data from an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 72, 86-90. PDF open access on the journal’s website

3. Alexander, C., Korstjens, A.H. and Hill, R., 2017. Influence of micro-topography and crown characteristics on tree height estimations in tropical forests based on LiDAR canopy height models. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 65, 105-113. PDF open access on the journal’s website

4. Alexander, C., Korstjens, A.H. and Hill, R., 2016. Structural attributes of individual trees for identifying homogeneous patches in a tropical rainforest. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 55, 68-72. Pre-print version available in BU repository (or upon request by email).

For more information on the ‘LEAP: Landscape Ecology and Primatology‘ research group, visit our website or like our facebook page. Our work featured also in the BU2012-2018 review (p17).