Embracing firefly flash pattern variability with data-driven species classification Journal Article uri icon



  • AbstractMany nocturnally active fireflies use precisely timed bioluminescent patterns to identify mates, making them especially vulnerable to light pollution. As urbanization continues to brighten the night sky, firefly populations are under constant stress, and close to half of the species are now threatened. Ensuring the survival of firefly biodiversity depends on a large-scale conservation effort to monitor and protect thousands of populations. While species can be identified by their flash patterns, current methods require expert measurement and manual classification and are infeasible given the number and geographic distribution of fireflies. Here we present the application of a recurrent neural network (RNN) for accurate automated firefly flash pattern classification. Using recordings from commodity cameras, we can extract flash trajectories of individuals within a swarm and classify their species with a precision and recall of approximately seventy percent. In addition to scaling population monitoring, automated classification provides the means to study firefly behavior at the population level. We employ the classifier to measure and characterize the variability within and between swarms, unlocking a new dimension of their behavior. Our method is open source, and deployment in community science applications could revolutionize our ability to monitor and understand firefly populations.

publication date

  • March 8, 2023

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • March 15, 2023 3:13 AM

Full Author List

  • Martin O; Nguyen C; Sarfati R; Chowdhury M; Iuzzolino ML; Nguyen DMT; Layer RM; Peleg O

author count

  • 8

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