I face big data archives of field recordings collected with Autonomous Recording Units (ARUs) and I am wondering of some standard database structure that I should respect. Any reports or papers you could recommend?

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    $\begingroup$ Are you looking for organizational advice for the audio files or the metadata related to the deployments (e.g. sample rate, lat/long, time period of recording, instrument details etc)? $\endgroup$
    – ASimonis
    Commented Jul 5, 2022 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ yes that would be great $\endgroup$
    – Amandine Gasc
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 7:09

2 Answers 2


You could look to public soundscape archival entities for inspiration. For example, NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) has a Passive Acoustic Data map. If you click on points on this map, you can eventually click through to a JSON file that shows the structure of the key-values used in their database and archival system (example here).

Depending on how large and collaborative your project is, you might have different needs out of a database / organizational system. In the past, I have worked on projects where we organized the data in SQLite, which is a fairly lightweight and flexible system. Pros: you don't need a database administrator -- you can do it yourself! Cons: a lack of "concurrency" if you are going to have many contributors to the database (though not typically an issue if you or a small number of collaborators are the only ones contributing to the database).

For R users, it is possible to set up a SQLite database from R and manage your data via R packages such as RSQLite and DBI. Here is a paper on how some colleagues and I have made this work for prior acoustic monitoring projects as well as a Gitlab Wiki page on the database structure we used (all code is available at this repository). This particular software is undergoing some changes, however -- suffice to say, it is quite an undertaking to elegantly manage a large set of acoustics data, and to have the foresight to figure out all the pieces you need to track and how they should relate together.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi, the link to your gitlab wiki is not working. could you update it? many thanks :) $\endgroup$
    – Amandine Gasc
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 18:35
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    $\begingroup$ I found it: code.usgs.gov/vtcfwru/ammonitor $\endgroup$
    – Amandine Gasc
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 18:48
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks @Amandine Gasc. I've edited to fix the link! $\endgroup$
    – Cathleen B
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 0:11

Not sure if you're more interested in data/metadata standards themselves or platforms for which to archive recordings, but if it's the latter, here are some -

ARBIMON (from Rainforest Connection) is a free, web-based platform for storing, managing, archiving, etc. passive acoustic recordings. Also has functionality for spectrogram viewing, template matching, etc.

There is also Biosounds, a web-based platform for ecoacoustics that archives and organises soundscape collections.


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