Dr. Kimberly Andrews
University of Georgia, Odum School of Ecology
Burrow Banter: Social Vocalizations in Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus Polyphemus)
Gopher tortoises are unusually talented socializers and the benefactors for a wide variety of wildlife within their ecosystem. Their burrows serve as refuge for over 360 commensal species. Unfortunately, the habitat in which they're a keystone species is under threat. In short, gopher tortoises are being forced out of their homes. While relocation of tortoises has proven to be effective, the shrinking quality of habitats and sprawling human development has led wildlife managers to turn to augmenting resident tortoise populations with relocated populations.
Researcher Kimberly Andrews and her team will monitor a group of twenty resident and twenty relocated tortoises for a one year period, starting in May.
The forty subjects are currently equipped with GPS data loggers and filmed at burrows using wildlife cameras as part of on-going research on this tortoise population. Since there is support that tortoises may use vocalizations for attracting mates, establishing social structures and influencing group dynamics, Song Meter SM4 acoustic recorders with cabled SMM-A2 microphones will be deployed at several burrows during the twelve month period. The Song Meter SM4 will capture both at burrow and inter-burrow vocalizations among the hybrid colony. Telemetry, video, and acoustic data will be combined to create a profile of the social foundation of these remarkable creatures.
Kimberly hopes to build upon prior research, expand the general knowledge of gopher tortoise vocalizations and confirm the use of the vocalizations before, during and after the mating season.
The recordings will be sorted and analyzed using Wildlife Acoustics' Kaleidoscope Pro software with acoustic Cluster Analysis. Kimberly will cross-analyze vocal recordings and time-stamped videos from the cameras to understand the physical cues of vocalizations and the behavior and/or interactions related to them.
Dr. Emilia Grzędzicka
Foundation for Silesia Park
Acoustic activity and conservation of the endangered heath bush-cricket Gampsocleis glabra (Orthopetera, Tettigonioidea) on xerothermic habitats in southeastern Poland
Grasslands are the world's most endangered terrestrial ecosystem. Pressure from global processes, climate change, invasive species, land-use change and urbanization are diminishing this habitat at an alarming rate. Grasslands, especially xerothermic habitats, are hotspots for land species of insects. They are known for a rich diversity of rare and endemic species of insects. Despite this unique and important environment, there is very little research carried out in grasslands in general and almost none attributed to the Eurasian grasslands. The lack of knowledge may imperil the order of insects belonging to Orthoptera – grasshoppers, locusts and crickets - some of the most sensitive indicators of habitat quality.
Many insects in the family Tettigonioidea, and in particular the Heath bush-cricket (Gampsocleis glabra) is threatened with extinction over the whole of Europe. In Poland, its population is down to few hundred individuals living in parts of the southeast.
Dr. Emilia Grzędzicka and her colleagues will set about to determine the presence of heath bush-crickets in xerothermic habitats, estimate the population with other Tettigonioidea and establish conservation protocols.
Tettigonioidea exhibits the greatest diversity of song structures. Stridulation, the insects' act of producing sound by rubbing together certain body parts, is useful for species classification and checking species abundances.
With the deployment of the Song Meter SM4 acoustic recorder in distressed xerothermic habitats, Dr. Grzędzicka will record the variation in song frequency as explained by the stresses of environment and increasing competition of individuals and species. She will also examine whether differences in songs among Heath bush-crickets leads to better transmission of songs in areas of stress. Finally, the team will also study whether the songs are modified to mitigate masking caused by the noise of urban environments.
The data will be analyzed with Wildlife Acoustics' Kaleidoscope Pro software with acoustic Cluster Analysis. The results will be used in conservation plans for the locations studies, including but not limited to plans of mowing, grazing and detecting habitat threats. It is Dr. Grzędzicka's goal that the findings may result in international cooperation to protect both species and the grassland habitats throughout Eurasia.