Physical offices closed January 18 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Dr. Darren O’Connell of Newcastle University in the United Kingdom will be using Song Meter SM4 recorders to create soundscapes and compare the biodiversity of different types of restored mangroves with original mangrove forests in Sulawesi, Indonesia.
The project will assess for the first time whether sound from avifauna and snapping shrimps, key components of mangrove soundscapes, are useful indicators for the restoration/rehabilitation of degraded forests.
Mangroves harbor distinctive assemblages of terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity. They sustain millions of people through coastal protection, food and firewood, and filtration of pollutants. Mangroves are also priority habitats in climate change mitigation/adaptation. About 35% of the global mangrove cover has been cleared for human use5 resulting in detrimental effects that have sparked replantation projects on multiple scales. Dr O’Connell’s work addresses an urgent need for reliable assessments of success in mangrove restoration projects including indicators of diversity, structure and function (i.e. ‘health’).
Kylie Starck, the Huntley Meadows Park (Fairfax County VA) Senior Interpreter, will implement the use of Echo Meter Touch 2 detectors to existing evening programs and create bat focused evening programs.
These events will be run by park staff and are designed to increase public awareness and understanding of bat ecology in the park. Visitors will learn where different bat species live, which park resources they depend on, how to protect bats, and encourage them to make a positive impact to the natural resources both inside and outside the park.
Dr. Kate Carstens and the Wild Bird Trust’s Cape Parrot Project are using acoustics to identify critical forest habitat for Cape Parrots in South Africa. With only 1,250 mature individuals remaining in the wild, identifying forest patches for protection is essential to ensuring the long-term viability of the population.
SM4 recorders will be rotated among 17 patches of forest during the breeding season to detect territorial behavior and again during the non-breeding season to monitor feeding areas and the use of the forests by humans. Kaleidoscope’s clustering technology will be used to extract and group bird calls in the recordings. Clusters identified as Cape Parrot calls will then be associated with territoriality, flying, feeding and perching behaviors. Cluster analysis will also be used to locate and identify human use of the forests. Finally, statistical analysis will help identify the likelihood of a forest being used as a breeding or roosting site.
Results of the acoustic surveys will guide conservation efforts including the installation of artificial nest boxes and restoration of Cape Parrot habitat, along with developing and maintaining strategic partnerships to effectively carry out conservation action. Results will also help link conservation with economic benefits to the small, rural communities surrounding the Cape Parrot forest habitats.
Mr. M. K. Tan of the National University of Singapore is studying the ultrasonic songs of katydids using the Echo Meter Touch 2 Pro. Using these handheld devices, calls of katydids will be recorded in the morning and evening in laboratory conditions or at biological stations to avoid noise from other species (e.g. bats).
The recordings will be analyzed to capture many parameters including the peak and mean frequencies, pulse duration, pulse repetition rate and interval between calls. This information will then be matched with anatomical data of the individual to create predictive models of the acoustic parameters based on the stridulatory anatomy.
Results of this study will form the basis of a song database for katydids in Southeast Asia. This database will address current knowledge gaps and will be used to inform researchers and impact long-term conservation in urban environments.
Dr. Ioanna Salvarina is leading a citizen science project to investigate the effects of urbanization and light pollution on bat populations across Greece. The project will also explore bat diversity and create a reference dataset of bat recordings across the country, including calls from different environments and light conditions. Volunteers will be able to borrow an Echo Meter Touch 2 and most will walk at least 3 transects per area per night. Others will use the available car mount and the Echo Meter Touch 2 to perform driving transects. The most motivated volunteers will get SM4BAT-FS unattended recorders which they will deploy overnight at two sites, one in the city and another on the outskirts and will repeat this for at least 3 nights.
In addition to making the results and recordings available to other scientists and policymakers, Dr. Salvarina plans to create a public exhibition about bats, their life, and their habitats. She hopes to increase public awareness and motivate people to learn more about bats and volunteer with "Lalitsa", a nonprofit association that promotes action in many fields, including the environment.
Biologist Clément Robidoux and his team from Appalachian Corridor, a conservation NGO, work to gather data regarding endangered bats across large tracts of land in Southern Quebec. Their goal is to provide Canadian government agencies with data to guide conservation efforts, including creation of conservation cores, buffers, and natural corridors to ensure connectivity on a landscape scale. Over the last two decades such efforts have increased protected areas on private land from 400 ha (988 acres) to 13 600 ha (33 606 acres) in the Green Mountain region.
The team will use SM4Bat-FS recorders for fixed surveys and Echo Meter Touch 2 recorders for driving transects. The data will then be analyzed using Kaleidoscope with expert review of suspected rare species calls. Results from the surveys will be shared with the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) who advises Environment and Climate Change Canada. This project will thus help prioritizing conservation efforts with regard to the protection of endangered bat species. Landowners will also receive information about bat species located in their area and how they can help protect them.
The critically endangered Trinidad Piping Guan or Pawi is the only species of bird endemic to the island of Trinidad. Restricted to moist forested habitat, the population has been estimated between 70 and 200 individuals – and the estimate is suspect as it is based on old (nearly 20 years old), sparse data and a methodology not suited to this arboreal bird. There is an urgent requirement for a more up-to-date and accurate distribution assessment.
Pawi are difficult to visually detect and live in challenging forest terrain to survey. However, the Pawi has a distinctive piping call and wing drumming behavior. For the first time ever in the Northern Range forests of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Mark Hulme and his researchers will use audio recordings to survey the distribution of this elusive species. The recordings will be analyzed using Wildlife Acoustics’ Kaleidoscope Pro 5 software.
The results will form the basis of an expansion of the Pawi survey from estimating the current distribution in the Northern Range to a preliminary abundance estimate and eventually a full population estimate once all suitable habitat on the island have been covered.
It is hoped that this research will inform and inspire similar methodologies for this bird and other cryptic Galliformes in Latin America and the rest of the world.