October Meetup: Tracking technology and acoustic monitoring with BTO

Hi everyone, 

The next meetup will be focused on tracking technologies and acoustic monitoring, led by the team from BTO.  

Topic: BTO - tracking technology and acoustic monitoring

Date: Tuesday, 18th October

Time: 10-11:30 (ish) 

Location: Room 1.25B (next to the common room), The David Attenborough Building, Cambridge

Sam Franks will begin by giving an overview of one of BTO’s main areas of current research, tracking migratory birds. We’re trying to understand why many of the UK’s long-distance migrants that winter in Africa are declining, and whether this might be due to changes at stopover areas or on the wintering grounds. We’d be interested in hearing ideas on interesting or novel land use/land use change/habitat/weather/climate datasets that we might use in conjunction with our tracking data.

Emily Scragg works with a number of different (mainly GPS based) tagging systems to try and understand more about how and why birds use the areas they do, particularly in relation to renewable energy development. She’s particularly interested in sharing knowledge about best practice tagging (both for the systems and for the animals) and best practice analysis of tracking data.

Gary Clewley will discuss new GPS-GSM tracking devices that the BTO has been working as a key partner to develop under the banner of Movetech. One of the key motivations has been to make tags available at a relatively low cost in order to facilitate research. BTO is now in a position that several products will soon be available commercially and the CCI Tech group is a good place to outline current devices and float ideas for ongoing developments.

Stu Newson will talk about the Norfolk Bat Survey, a citizen science project that was set up to improve local knowledge and interest in bats and which has enlisted over 1,000 volunteers. Volunteers borrow a passive bat-detector (Wildlife Acoustics SM2Bat+ recording in full-spectrum) from one of 21 centres hosting equipment, put the detector out over 3 nights, then post the memory card containing bat recordings back to the BTO for analysis. Stu would like to get feedback on two areas:

  • The analytical challenge of trying to estimate abundance when individual identification is not possible (one bat can trigger a detector multiple times). Is the answer a form of occupancy modelling? Or extensions of random encounter models originally developed for camera-trap data? Other ideas/suggestions?
  • Acoustic monitoring of birds (e.g. nocturnal species or monitoring remote areas). Stu has a growing library of >300,000 bird recordings through the bat work. Stu would be keen to hear from anyone in the community who is already working on the acoustic identification of birds, and where a dataset of unknown bird recordings would be useful.

If you're coming along, it would be helpful for planning (to ensure enough fruit and biscuits!) if you would either sound out below or drop me an email at [email protected]. If you're coming from outside the building, you're most welcome, but definitely drop me an email so I can alert reception to expect you. 

I look forward to seeing you next week!