Sensors already equip a range of tools to enhance monitoring capacity for conservation. Some of the higher bandwidth technologies, like camera traps and acoustic monitoring systems, have been essential elements of the conservation toolkit for decades, and thus have enough users that we've created dedicated WILDLABS groups to address them. But a whole range of lower bandwidth sensors beyond these core technologies are being increasingly integrated into conservation monitoring systems, and offer rich new insights into the wildlife and ecosystems we're all working to protect. As with many technologies, cost and access have historically been challenges to the adoption of new sensors, but with low-cost and open-source solutions on the rise, we're excited to see what the future of this space holds.
Getting Started with Sensors:
- Watch Shah Selbe's Tech Tutors episode on scaling FieldKit, an open-source conservation sensor toolbox, from a project to a successful conservation tech product.
- Check out our Virtual Meetup about Low-Cost, Open-Source Solutions in conservation tech, including a talk by Alasdair Davies on the Arribada Initiative's work with thermal sensors in early warning systems.
- For a more in-depth introduction, watch the first video in our datalogger mini-series: Freaklabs: How do I get started with Arduino?
In this group, you'll meet others who are using and innovating diverse sensors in their work, discuss ways to make sensors more effective & accessible for conservationists, learn about what sensors are already helping us accomplish in the field, and have the opportunity to ask and answer questions. Join this group to get started!
Header image: Emma Vogel, University of Tromsø
Project Officer, WILDLABS
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Conservation Technologist, National Geographic Explorer, and Founder of Conservify and FieldKit
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Jack of all Trades. I've been a zoo keeper, a conservation geneticist and a web developer who specialises in conservation projects and orgs.
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A systems and policy specialist, currently working as the Quality & Accreditation Manager for Ceres Tag.
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I represent the French company BLUSPARK in Brasil, which aims at optimizing natural areas's managment through digital platform/app that connect communities and enhance collective awareness of the daily issues at stake in the areas.
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PhD student exploring design and technology to connect people with nature and the environment
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I'm the WILDLABS Research Specialist at WWF-US
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Seabird ecologist at Clemson University, South Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Co-chair of Caribbean Seabird Working Group.
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Application Developer at Octophin Digital and constant maker.
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Worked as a mechanical engineer for a defence co, then software engineer, then for a research lab specialising in underwater robotics.
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- 127 Discussions
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In this Conservation Tech Showcase case study from Fieldkit, you'll learn how accessible tools are revolutionizing environmental monitoring through innovative sensor technology.
23 May 2023
Welcome to our new Conservation Tech Showcase, a series highlighting innovative and impactful projects from outstanding organizations around the world.
11 May 2023
New role at Pivotal Earth
4 April 2023
The Zoological Society of London, with the support of WILDLABS and the UK Space Agency, are proud to publish this new guide to satellite technologies for tracking wildlife.
17 February 2023
Technology to End the Sixth Mass Extinction. Salary: $104k-144K; Location: Washington DC or Seattle WA, potential hybrid; 5+ years of Full stack development experience; Deadline March 15th - view post for full job...
10 February 2023
Frontiers in Conservation Science is calling for submissions for a Research Topic that aims at examining the paradoxical relationship that has been established in recent years between the flagships of new technology...
10 February 2023
Are you excited by the potential for new technologies to help monitor the natural world? Do you enjoy communicating your passion for technology and nature with diverse audiences? We are seeking an enthusiastic...
2 February 2023
Consultancy opportunity at ZSL for an experienced monitoring specialist to support species monitoring in rewilding landscapes across Europe
31 January 2023
WILDLABS and Fauna & Flora International are seeking an early career Vietnamese conservationist for 12-month paid internship position to grow and support the Southeast Asia regional community in our global...
11 January 2023
As the FieldKit hardware ecosystem grows, Conservify is seeking a Junior Electrical Engineer to assist with testing, troubleshooting, prototype development, and developing production test fixtures for our growing...
9 December 2022
Conservify is seeking a hands-on Senior Software Engineer with front end and back end experience developing rich web and mobile applications, and a strong desire to build a best-in-class product that stands out in both...
9 December 2022
Conservify is seeking a hands-on Senior Product and Production Manager with strong interpersonal and organizational skills to remotely lead a small seasoned team of thinkers, designers and engineers who are shaping the...
9 December 2022
|Hi Stephan,Good to know you have considered the OpenCollar trackers. It is true that currently we do not provide the CollarEdge for new deployments on lion. We have found that...||
||Sensors||2 days 22 hours ago|
|Hi Becky,Have you considered the Kestrel Drop D2? They're significantly cheaper at $99, but not rechargeable. They take button batteries, but these last a long time with standard...||
||Biologging, Climate Change, Sensors, Build Your Own Data Logger Community, Emerging Tech||3 weeks 4 days ago|
|Hi Lucy, Sorry! I was in the field by the time you replied, and have not been back long. I realise it's been months now, but are you still planning on using the SM Micros? If...||
|Acoustic Monitoring, Sensors||3 weeks 4 days ago|
|Hi WildLabs,ZSL is looking for Beta testers for Instant Detect 2.0. If you are a conservationist, scientist or wildlife ranger with...||
||Camera Traps, Climate Change, Community Base, Connectivity, Emerging Tech, Human-Wildlife Conflict, Sensors, Wildlife Crime||3 weeks 4 days ago|
|Hi. I'm looking for an off-the-shelf saltwater switch for an undersea application. It needs to be depth rated Is there anything like this...||
||Marine Conservation, Sensors||4 weeks 2 days ago|
|Not sure exactly how your telemetry will be deployed, but if it's going to be attached to an animal in a relatively non-invasive way, you might check with zoos or aquariums that...||
|Biologging, Marine Conservation, Sensors||1 month 3 weeks ago|
|Very cool, @BrettMargoSupplies ! Will keep an eye out for that wireless electrical fence!||
|Sensors||1 month 3 weeks ago|
|Hi Jeremy, With a quick search I've found the paper linked below. It looks like equipments such as Livox MID are sufficient for plot-level analyses, but not for individual...||
||Drones, Earth Observation 101 Community, Emerging Tech, Remote Sensing & GIS, Sensors||1 month 4 weeks ago|
|Hi @ShwetaMukundan,this could be interesting for you:https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/scirobotics.abb0839https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwiHf2T9bLUhttps://edition.cnn.com/2020...||
||Autonomous Camera Traps for Insects, Sensors||2 months ago|
|Our project in very short is, setting up a sensor network for monitoring airborne biomass, mainly insects, birds and bats in near realtime, and to develop a forecast model to be...||
||Autonomous Camera Traps for Insects, Biologging, Remote Sensing & GIS, Sensors||2 months 2 weeks ago|
|I couldn't agree more with both of these comments tom! I'm reading hundreds (literally hundreds) of applications for open WILDLABS roles at the moment, and the ones that stand out...||
|AI for Conservation, Drones, Early Career, Sensors||2 months 3 weeks ago|
|Oh good call! I'll add that to our events calendar as well :)||
||Remote Sensing & GIS, Sensors||3 months 3 weeks ago|
Lion collars LoRaWan
24 May 2023 8:10am
2 June 2023 1:59pm
I can't offer much advice sorry, but it made me think of the Moovement ear tags:
This device also looks interesting (although it's on backorder), but could be cheap and small enough to incorporate into your own robust collar:
Anyhow, sorry I am not much help, but I'd be keen to hear how you get on.
All the best,
2 June 2023 7:21pm
Good to know you have considered the OpenCollar trackers. It is true that currently we do not provide the CollarEdge for new deployments on lion. We have found that some top units of the CollarEdge can get damaged when lion are mating. The male lion bites in the neck of the female and thereby damages the top unit enclosure. However, the CollarEdge units that are on Lion, that have not been bitten perform really well. We are now in the process of iterating towards a new design that makes the CollarEdge more robust and at the same time we are working on adding VHF, Iridium and P2P LoRa. We aim to have the first units ready by the end of this year.
Follow progress via our website and wiki:
or send me an email.
FieldKit: Accessible Sensor Technology for All
23 May 2023 10:26pm
How sensors in "Smart Eggs" are helping Condors
19 May 2023 12:30am
A really interesting article on how the Oregon Zoo's condor team have used sensors and 3D printed eggs to monitor the conditions inside California Condor nests. Because condors are still endangered, every chick is important to the species' longterm success, so being able to monitor nests for potential changes and more effectively replicate natural nest conditions in incubators is a big step forward for improving their breeding program.
Best Temperature/ Humidity Dataloggers
24 April 2023 1:30pm
27 April 2023 7:44am
Something from the indomitable Ed Mallon
5 May 2023 12:52pm
I'm using sensors from Inkbird. Various types available, including cable probes. Powered by AAA rechargeables.
11 May 2023 5:49pm
Have you considered the Kestrel Drop D2? They're significantly cheaper at $99, but not rechargeable. They take button batteries, but these last a long time with standard settings. They connect to an app on a phone, but can store large amounts of data before needing to be synced. The one thing to be aware of is that you should make some kind of rain cover to hang them from, because the humidity sensor is exposed, so if it gets wet, it will just show 100%...
Introducing the 2023 Conservation Tech Showcase
11 May 2023 5:06pm
Song Meter Micro experience?
27 October 2022 6:33pm
11 May 2023 3:25pm
Not long back from the field, have a lot of catching up to do! Thanks a lot for this reply.
If I'd fully appreciated the significance of that strange spike at 6Khz beforehand, it may have changed my mind about project design (larger deployment of Micro vs smaller of Mini). It's a bit of a nightmare, and basically makes it impossible to do/trust soundscape analysis... Luckily my main aim for this season was species-targeted, so the main issue I'm having is annotating training data without passing out when the cicadas kick in. I had hoped to combine this with soundscape stuff, but that's going to be a no-go with these recorders. I'll summarise my experience down below. I'm ashamed(?) to say I'm not really on twitter, but I'll get in touch.
Also, I had indeed seen your excellent guidelines handbook (after my initial query on this thread) and was singing its praises to Tom. It's a fantastic resource which I'll be referring back to for a while!
11 May 2023 4:38pm
Thanks again to everyone who commented on this. I've been back from the field for a week or so, just catching up on things. Here are my thoughts on the Micro for anyone considering them.
- Durability/waterproofing. One literally ended up underwater for 2 days after a rapid flood event, and it was still working. No fish or dolphin recordings, sadly, but it worked for the rest of the season - good to know! No humidity issues either, I used two of the small desiccant packets per recorder, and changed them each time I changed the batteries. I haven't used the SM Mini, but I would imagine that having the foam mic windscreen might actually be a disadvantage in wet environments, as it surely gets saturated easily and dries slowly, potentially changing the mic's sensitivity. No foam or external components = fewer
- Usability. This isn't specific to the Micro, but the app is great. For anyone who hasn't used Wildlife Acoustics before, it's a definite plus. Love the flexibility to have multiple schedules per day (e.g. full dawn chorus combined with 1-in-10 for the rest of the day). Being able to do everything, including change schedule, from a phone vs a laptop is a big plus. Admittedly I haven't checked the latest version of the AudioMoth configuration app, but last time I used it, it did not have the functionality of the SM app.
- Availability! This might be a dumb one, but good luck trying to get an AudioMoth... Even the SM Mini is currently on backorder, as are several of the other main options.
- Sound quailty. For some applications, it's perfectly fine, comparable to AudioMoth, but see main 'con' below.
- Uneven frequency response. This is a big one. As @Oliver_Metcalf pointed out, there is a strange peak in the f response at around 6kHz. It's on their website, but I had not quite appreciated how significant it is. It's a big deal IF you plan on doing soundscape analysis (e.g. acoustic indices), because it biases recordings towards the insect chorus. A lot of my recordings ended up with clipping distortion as a result of insects (cicadas, katydids) and even some frogs (sp.) This is less of an issue if you're listening for particular species, especially if it vocalises <6kHz, like most birds and frogs.
- Battery life (a). Admittedly, I should have done some more thorough testing with this one, like @jkitzes' lab. Based on a quick test and estimates, I thought the SM Micro should get ~100 hours of recording using Eneloop Pro batteries. What I actually got was around 80 hours on average, which is pretty bad, and meant that a lot more of my time was spent going to change batteries than originally planned. It was in lowland rainforest, so low temperature was not an issue. Sample rate was 32kHz. Potentially there was an issue with my battery charger, but I tested batteries and they seemed at full capacity. I don't know whether there is some incompatibility issue going on...
- Battery life (b). I also used Energizer Lithium batteries (the best ones) on a couple of deployments. Strangely, this did not dramatically improve things! I got 90-100 hours. However, when I changed the schedule for one of the recorders from '1 min on, 2 off, 24/7' to '1 min on, 0 off, 5am-6pm', that recorder lasted for 250hrs! I don't know if this was just a fluke, or if something about power cycling differences between schedule types has a big effect. It shouldn't, but that schedule got by far the longest battery life.
- Great for short-term deployments targeted at particular species (e.g. SDM ground-truthing, preliminary conservation monitoring)
- Probably better suited to temperate sites with less insect noise
- Test out different schedules to see if this really does affect battery life
- NOT good for soundscape analysis/acoustic indices
Let me know if you have any questions/comments! Hope this is helpful to anyone thinking about these recorders.
11 May 2023 4:45pm
Sorry! I was in the field by the time you replied, and have not been back long. I realise it's been months now, but are you still planning on using the SM Micros? If so, please have a look at my thoughts in the new comment on this thread. I would think in Norway, the stridulating insect issue would not be as bad as in the tropics. Depends on what you want to use them for. Battery life is still definitely an issue though, and even more so in low temperatures. Good luck, let me know how you get on, or if you went with a different recorder.
Apply to Beta test Instant Detect 2.0
11 May 2023 10:55am
Looking for an off-the-shelf saltwater switch
6 May 2023 6:05am
Field testing of a radio telemetry system to be deployed in the sea.
24 January 2023 6:52am
21 March 2023 2:47am
Here's a link about waterproofing in the marine environment, if you haven't already discovered Ed Mallon.
21 March 2023 8:52am
Oh, great link! Been doing marine projects recently and a big headache is protecting submerged electronics. I've kind of heard of many of those techniques, but great to see them collected all in one place and with first hand experienced commentary regarding them.
12 April 2023 2:32pm
Not sure exactly how your telemetry will be deployed, but if it's going to be attached to an animal in a relatively non-invasive way, you might check with zoos or aquariums that have similar species.
I worked in that industry for a long time and we tested telemetry for seals, sea lions, polar bears and elephants. There might have been more, but that's all I can think of off the top of my head. This can help improve attachment methods and test how tough the animals will be on the equipment.
What are people using IoT for?
16 March 2019 3:27am
12 April 2023 4:31am
Cell phone detection is one of the more interesting anti-poaching approaches I've seen. Everyone is glued to their phones these days. Even poachers!
12 April 2023 8:34am
Yes it is quite clever! With multiple GSM towers/stations it should be possible to locate the phones (poachers) using trilateration.
12 April 2023 8:35am
Very cool, @BrettMargoSupplies ! Will keep an eye out for that wireless electrical fence!
The 59th Annual Meeting of Illinois Chapter of The Wildlife Society
12 April 2023 5:24am
Advice on afforable LiDAR scanners for Amazon forest surveys
5 April 2023 3:47pm
6 April 2023 6:21pm
With a quick search I've found the paper linked below. It looks like equipments such as Livox MID are sufficient for plot-level analyses, but not for individual trees. Also, it has performed worse in dense canopies and broadleaf forest, thus I believe we won't have a technology capable of doing what you aim for this amount of money (< $1000) in a few years from now.
I hope someone give us an alternative, though. :D
Hardware Lead - Biodiversity / Conservation
4 April 2023 12:54pm
Camera to follow wasps/attach on wasps
9 March 2023 5:16am
11 March 2023 2:44am
Hi @Lars_Holst_Hansen @tom_august
The link to the video is amazing. Thank you for it.
The wasps that I am working on, are solitary. So, basically it is just this one female that builds the entire nest. Like what you (@tom_august) mentioned, the best option would be to keep a running camera at the nest to record the whole process of nest building. Having one placed inside will be difficult because even if we do work out a way to have lighting inside the nest, the light might be detrimental to the developing larva inside. Hence, it is likely not to be of any benefit.
I am totally smitten by the idea of having a sensor on the wasp body to track where it goes! We could get to know how far it travels to bring the prey and also to collect soil.
14 March 2023 1:30pm
@ShwetaMukundan I just saw this thesis published on tracking bees. Maybe you could use the same method?
30 March 2023 1:14pm
this could be interesting for you:
All from this working group:
Monitoring airborne biomass
14 March 2023 10:30am
14 March 2023 1:34pm
Looks like you want to have a read of this thread:
20 March 2023 2:44pm
Our project in very short is, setting up a sensor network for monitoring airborne biomass, mainly insects, birds and bats in near realtime, and to develop a forecast model to be used for mitigation with respect various types of human-wildlife conflicts (e.g. wind power, pesticide application, aviation). Our expertise is mainly in radar monitoring, but we aim on add insect camera information to be merged with the quantitative biomass measeurments by radar.
Computer Science student looking to work for wildlife
5 March 2023 10:04pm
14 March 2023 2:00pm
Great information! Thank you for sharing this. I actually have Masters in Zoology and have done some field work in Marine Conservation. Since then I have worked in Science education and eventually switched to Software Programming. My dream has always been to work in Conservation, however life happened and I had to give up on this pipe dream. I currently work as a Developer in a contractor role for the Federal Government. Would someone with my experience have an advantage in conservation Tech?
14 March 2023 2:58pm
I think the real demand in conservation tech is for transdisciplianry individuals. If you look at all the stand-out people in this space they are people who occupy multiple domains that are traditionally isolated. These are people who talk fluently in computer science and ecology, for example. Not only this, they are also people who create and imagine in ways that intertwin ideas and concepts across these domains. Its these people, thinking in these ways, that lead to innovations that really move us forward. Some of these people started out where you are now, having crossed domains through their career and then seeing opportunities to bring these skills together in imaginative ways.
14 March 2023 9:53pm
I couldn't agree more with both of these comments tom! I'm reading hundreds (literally hundreds) of applications for open WILDLABS roles at the moment, and the ones that stand out are those where it's really clear they're following genuine curiosity across different disciplines. If you're in conservation, it's the evidence of interest in tech (courses, projects, things you're trying and learning yourself). For tech, it's getting into conservation - all the things you mentioned.
Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society’s Annual Meeting 2023
20 February 2023 10:56pm
Download Now: A Best Practice Guide to Satellite Technologies for Tracking Wildlife
17 February 2023 10:29am
17 February 2023 11:34am
20 February 2023 9:34am
AI, sensors enhance wildfire detection
15 February 2023 10:27am
A pilot program in Oregon’s Willamette Valley will test how well artificial intelligence-enabled sensors can identify and characterize wildfires, which will help with responder resource allocation and boost community resilience.
Catch up with The Variety Hour: February
14 February 2023 6:26pm
Hiring Full Stack Developer at Conservation X Labs
10 February 2023 5:35pm
Recommendations about online courses on GPS wildlife tracking?
8 February 2023 11:28am
8 February 2023 2:39pm
We're hosting a tutorial tomorrow about how to use GPS satellite tages to monitor giraffe - this could be a good starting point! If you check out our youtube channel we have a lot of other talks about selecting and using tags on different species. See the links below
10 February 2023 12:13pm
Animove is running a course this summer (costs) though also has free online materials (lots of videos, linked below). Requires advanced R-coding skills to start with, if that suits you.
10 February 2023 1:12pm
Oh good call! I'll add that to our events calendar as well :)
Call for Proposals: 'Can Technology Save Biodiversity?'
10 February 2023 10:31am
Commercially available connected audio sensors
2 February 2023 3:08pm
2 February 2023 3:55pm
I am not aware of any such connected loggers/recorders but they would be nice.
The AudioMoths have been revolutionary in providing audologging at a low cost but they take a lot of "data muling" (carrying SD cards in and out of the field sites) and swapping of batteries.
2 February 2023 7:50pm
Hi Lars, thanks for the response. We are using lots of Song Meter Micro's atm and they have proved to be resilient. Just need something which doesn't involve going on site regularly - but get the data off.
3 February 2023 7:04pm
Rainforest Connection's (RFCx) Guardian devices may be of interest. They are solar-powered and have connectivity options for Wifi, GSM and satellite transfer. They've previously been used for detecting e.g., gunshots or chainsaws (using edge computing) and then sending positive detections/alerts to folks on the ground. RFCx also hosts Arbimon, a free, no-code software platform that facilitates analysis of audio data as well. Happy to chat more if you'd like to talk further about it!
Job: Building a network of conservation tech across continents
2 February 2023 1:50pm
Consultancy opportunity: Wildlife monitoring specialist
31 January 2023 11:26am
Solar panels in the tropics
26 January 2023 12:28am
27 January 2023 1:23pm
I'm with Akiba, you have to test. A collaborator has deployed solar-augmented kit in secondary jungle and some of them got enough light, and others didn't, so it can work. The open circuit voltage of solar panels doesn't change a whole lot in dim light, but the current drops drastically. So you would choose an oversize panel of the same voltage (or a bit higher).
27 January 2023 3:56pm
I've been intrigued by this topic. Thinking about ways you could use drones or some kind of launcher to deploy panels above the canopy. Sadly I live in the great white north so I have no way of testing any concepts. Maybe even some kind of solar balloon that could float above the canopy. Interesting design problem.
30 January 2023 10:10am
Since the output is dependent on a couple of factors such as the solar irradiance of the place, shading from the canopy, the type of solar panels (mono, poly or amorphous) and orientation of the panels, etc, I'd suggest you use a software to simulate the different parameters to get an almost accurate estimation of the output. You can try PVsyst- it has a free month trial (I haven't used it before but I hear it's great) or any other PV software :)
Advanced Field School in Computational Ecology
25 January 2023 2:54pm
Interview for Technologies in Conservation
24 November 2022 10:07am
16 January 2023 2:42pm
I'd be happy to chat with you if you wanted! My expertise is within passive acoustic monitoring particularly. The Conservation Tech Directory might be useful for you in identifying relevant actors within the space.
16 January 2023 5:16pm
Happy to contribute [email protected]
17 January 2023 5:12pm
My original background is in ecology and conservation, and am now in the elected leadership of the Gathering for Open Science Hardware which convenes researchers developing open source tech for science. I am not working on a specific piece of technology right now, but am happy to contribute some higher-level views for your interview if that helps.
New paper - Real-time alerts from AI-enabled camera traps using the Iridium satellite network: A case-study in Gabon, Central Africa
13 January 2023 12:12am
Sending real-time alerts from ecological sensors such as camera traps in areas with poor data connectivity is complex and involves integrating a large number of potentially complex hardware and software components. Our results demonstrate that these components can be successfully integrated to achieve reliable, near real-time alerts from camera traps under challenging field conditions.
25 May 2023 7:07am
I have no experience with this company but have you considered Africa Wildlife Tracking:
Why can you not ship Vectronic Vertex to Kenya?