Ioanna Salvarina and Lalitsa
In August, we received with great happiness the equipment (the Echo Meter Touch modules, 2 SM4BAT-FS recorders etc) from Wildlife Acoustics. First, a few people tested, the protocol to identify possible confusing points and confirm that it is understandable from non-experts. Soon after, we started sending the Echo Meter Touch to volunteers all over Greece. So far about 25 people did recordings at least at 30 different places, from Crete to North Greece. The volunteers record bats with the Echo Meter Touch while walking three trails, 500 m each, one at the most urbanised part of their city/town/village, one at a less urbanised and one at a rather 'green’ (e.g. a park). They also have to fill out and send us a protocol along with the recordings. The volunteers sound excited with this experience and are looking forward to receiving the Echo Meter again and record at more places. The Echo Meters had a good use also during the International Bat Night at Mount Olympus, that Lalitsa organized. The participants had the chance to use the Echo Meter Touch devices to detect bats and later most of them volunteered for the citizen science project.
To get a better impression of the bat communities present in the cities, we are now also setting a network of volunteers who will record stationary with the SM4BAT-FS and during some driving transects with the Echo Meter Touch mounted using the Echo Meter car mounts.
The more we advertise our project, the more the interest is growing and many volunteers are still in the waiting list.
The phase of recordings with the Echometer Touch modules has successfully finished, the weather conditions were pretty good so the bats were still active and our volunteers had the opportunity to continue recordings in November. Additional, passive recordings took place in October and November with the SM4BAT-FS recorders, for three consecutive days at two different points in the same city, at one rather busy and another quieter. We have received almost all data from the volunteers, although we still have to check with some for additional information or clarifications. We saved the recordings and the protocols in multiple discs and the analysis is about to start. First step, is to get accustomed to Kaleidoscope on the one side and create a file with all information from the single protocols that the volunteers sent us. The species identification and the statistical analysis will follow later in the year.
During the last months, we gathered all information from the single protocols that the volunteers sent us and created a nice master file. Some of the problems we encountered are that some volunteers did not follow the instructions correctly but improvised or have sent incomplete protocol information. We are trying to collect –whenever possible– the missing information. The recordings made with smartphones and the Echo Meter Touch modules were run into Kaleidoscope that gave us already the initial results. Now the automatic identifications are being checked manually to approve or correct the automatic identification. Statistical analyses will follow.
If it hadn’t been for the Coronavirus crisis, Ioanna would have presented the first results and our experience from this citizen science project, at the Berlin Bat Meeting 2020 but unfortunately, the meeting was cancelled.
Apart from that we have started organizing the final exhibition that is planned to take place in the end of summer-beginning of autumn, if there is no delay due to the current crisis.