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David Lawlor

David Lawlor
Fairfax County Park Authority, Huntley Meadows Park, Virginia

Rare marsh bird breeding survey

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Huntley Meadows Park (HMP) is an internationally recognized nature and tourism site and is designated as a premier Fairfax County Park Authority property. Within the 1550 acre park is a 50 acre managed wetland that is the focus of a $3 million, multi-year restoration project, headed David Lawlor, Natural Resources MHP.

Starting this spring, David and his staff will deploy Song Meter SM4 wildlife recorders around the wetland to conduct a survey species presence and inventory effort. Specifically, the team will be listening for six notoriously shy and secretive breeding marsh birds – the rare king rail, Virginia rail, American bittern, Least bittern, common gallinule and pied-billed grebe. The vocalization data will be analyzed using Wildlife Acoustics' Kaleidoscope Pro 5 analysis software with acoustic Cluster Analysis.

By collecting and analyzing vocalization data in the wetland, David intends to document the presence and use of the wetlands by the rare marsh birds, determine their amount of time spent in the wetland during breeding season and correlate the results with water level analysis and vegetation types. The compiled data will guide and support more informed future wetland management plans.

David's results will be put to many uses. His work will be given to the 2021 Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas. Data will also be integrated into the Virginia Department of Natural Heritage database. Mr. Lawlor's findings will be part of the park's education programs, showcasing rare wetland breeding bird status.

Luis E. Vargas-Castro

Luis E. Vargas-Castro
Foundation of the Distance State University for the Development and Promotion of Distance Education (FUNDEPREDI), Costa Rica

From misconceptions to investigation: training future bat conservationists

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Bats are key contributors to healthy ecosystems. They play critical roles as seed dispersers, pollinators and highly efficient insect pest consumers. Their activities provide economic benefits as well, saving billions of dollars in crops subject to insect damage and reducing pesticide use. Yet, bats are a special conservation concern as about a third of the world's species are threatened (vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered) or data deficient.

In Costa Rica, misconceptions and myths surround bats and are detrimental to bat populations. Mr. Vargas-Castro and collaborators will recruit 36 students from six Santa Cruz high schools, in Guanacaste, to teach them about bat conservation. The students will be equipped with state-of-the-art Echo Meter Touch 2 bat detectors and Kaleidoscope Pro 5 analysis software with bat auto-ID to capture, quickly organize and analyze the vast amount of bat echolocation call data.

Luis explains, the project has both biological and social purposes. Using the Echo Meter Touch, his group will examine spatial and seasonal patterns for the most common species of bats. Also, he and his students will create an acoustic library of bat echolocation calls specific to Guanacaste, that could later be used to conduct further conservation research focusing on habitat quality aspects and current status of species populations in the area.

The social purpose is just as important. The project will help to educate rural communities about the important roles bats play in ecosystem health, and will provide students with cutting-edge technology to record research data. Each participant will be enabled to teach other people about the importance of bats to our society and the benefits of conserving them and their habitat. The team will share the ongoing results with participating high schools, universities and eco-lodges. Project findings will also be shared via scientific publications.