discussion / AI for Conservation  / 28 January 2021

Tech Tutors: How do I start a Tech4Wildlife collaboration?

Hi Wildlabbers,

Ed Miller and Melanie Clapham tackled the question, "How do I start a Tech4Wildlife collaboration? Lessons learned from developing facial recognition for bears" in our seventh Tech Tutors 2 episode. If you missed the event, you can watch the recording below. You can also find the collaborative notes doc from this episode here.

This thread is your place to continue the Q&A (or ask your question ahead of time if you can't make it to the episode). Drop any questions for Ed and Melanie in this thread and we'll make sure they see them!

And likewise, if you have questions for each other or want to continue discussions from the episode chat, you can also use this thread to connect and collaborate!


One barrier that was discussed in the presentation was the "risk" or uncertainty of a payoff when talking to potential funders. It seems to me that the "risk" factor of collaborations like this, for funders, would be analogous to the investment and payoff when developing a genomics program. Relative to traditional field research, it takes a much greater investment in time, with different expertise, to create a reference genome for a species of interest and then pull SNPs, etc. Nevertheless, funders seem to recognize the potential for genomic research and genomic tools. Do you think that greater openness to “risk” in conservation genomics results from closer intellectual proximity (i.e., molecular biology vs organismal biology), or to conservation genomics being a more mature field (i.e., more examples of success), or to other factors? If intellectual proximity is a key factor, then conservation tech collaborations will continue to face this barrier, but if lack of successful examples are a key factor, then perhaps this barrier will become less of an issue for conservation tech in the future. Thoughts?

I'm an engineer and product designer working on wildlife conservation technology.
Group Curator
WILDLABS Event Speaker

Hi. Just watched the Youtube version (I'm in the unable to watch live hemisphere) and wanted to say that was a great talk. I wish it could have gone for another hour. I liked hearing about the issues and concerns from Melanie on the biology/ecology side. Also could totally relate to what Ed was talking about from the tech side about how it's difficult to have long term collaborations since there isn't really a conservation technology career path at the moment. 
I think one of the things we're trying to do with courses like Build Your Own Datalogger is to get people involved in wildlife/conservation side more comfortable with the tech. The goal is to hopefully build a shared repository of technical knowledge that people in the wildlife community can contribute to and benefit from.