Use of biophonic signals to assess occupancy of anurans and bats in in southern Massachusetts outside state protected area network
Dr. Thilina Surasinghe and Maria Armour Bridgewater State University Foundation
As the Third Quarter grant recipients in 2017, we have now been able to begin the analysis portion of our first season of ultrasonic and acoustic data. For our collaborative project, this summer we have collected both acoustic and ultrasonic recordings at our study sites in Southeastern Massachusetts. This grant has allowed us to run our six months of calls through Kaleidoscope Pro. Over these last few months, a member of our team has attended a workshop run by Wildlife Acoustics and we all have learned how to apply Kaleidoscope Pro software. Our research team has just begun looking at our first season of recordings with less than 10% of our 2017 recordings analyzed.
Our goal for this project is to assess occupancies of bats and anuran taxa in Massachusetts protected and private areas and to analyze the overall soundscape for these sites. Two of our three field sites are located within Mass Audubon's Moosehill Wildlife Sanctuary (Sharon, MA) and a third, private site, in Bridgewater, MA. We deployed Wildlife Acoustics SM3BAT systems from May 2017 – October 2017 at the Mass Audubon sites. Along with learning the software ourselves, during the fall semester we began training two Undergraduate Biology majors enrolled in research credits. This has been the students' first true involvement in conducting scientific research.
Both of our SM3BAT hardware systems were fitted with ultrasonic and acoustic microphones. Since ending our field season in October, we have only been able to scratch the surface of our recordings; analyzing a couple hundred ultrasonic, bat calls. Non-ultrasonic, soundscape recordings have yet to be examined. In the coming semester, we along with our trained research students and new undergraduate students will begin acoustic analyses and continue cluster analysis on our ultrasonic recordings. Come March, our research team will begin the second field season.
Kaleidoscope Pro will continually be used moving forward with this project on bat and anuran taxa. Now that we have learned how to use this software, this spring we hope to complete analysis on our first season of acoustic recordings.
The bioacoustics research lab at Bridgewater State University has made significant progress in the soundscape analysis portion of this project since the last report. Our undergraduate research students, Joshua Kelleher and Adam Enos, have been busy over the spring semester running manual species ID for bats on Kaleidoscope Pro. Through many hours at the computer, Josh and Adam have been able to put together preliminary results of our first season in two posters that they will present next month at the 2018 New England Natural History Conference (NENHC) in Burlington, VT. This will be the first academic conference presentation for both students and the first "publishing outlet" for the research we proposed. Josh's poster is titled "Differences in Seasonal Occurrence and Activity of Bat Species within Private Conservation Land in Massachusetts" and Adam's is "Bat Occupancy in Two Habitat Types in Private Conservation Lands of Southeastern Massachusetts". It is because of the Wildlife Acoustic grant that our two undergraduate student researchers are able to present on their research this coming April.
As we wrap up analysis on season 2017 and prepare for the regional conference, our second acoustic season is already underway. Due to multiple severe snowstorms we have had in the last two months, we have only now been able to access our acoustic recorder deployment sites. During this final week in March, the students and I re-deployed two SM3BAT systems at Mass Audubon's Moose Hill Sanctuary in Sharon, MA. Microphone position was slightly altered at both sites to minimize unwanted echoes from water surfaces. Our deployment setup has been given an update through the support of the Wildlife Acoustics grant. Each system is now housed in the SM3BAT Armor, which offers increased protection and a piece of mind during times of deployment. We also have installed a Garmin GPS unit. An external battery or solar power option is being investigated to extend our deployment dates.
We look forward to sharing our 2017 results that include both bat and amphibian analysis in the next progress report quarter.