Wildlife Acoustics announce updated EM3 the EM3+

So there’s a new handheld detector on the horizon as Wildlife Acoustics release the EM3+.

The EM3+ seems to be a tweak rather than a full upgrade with the main differences over the EM3 being ergonomic; improved buttons and a lanyard to secure the detector during use. Early adopters may take the view it’s the machine the EM3 should have been on release.

I’m guessing there’ll still be noise generated from hand movements and it’ll be interesting to see if Wildlife Acoustics have managed to isolate the white noise encountered during GPS use.

More info here: http://www.wildlifeacoustics.com/products/echo-meter-em3

NHBS Pre Order link: http://www.nhbs.com/echo_meter_em3+_bat_detector_tefno_191574.html

 

Bats and Museums

As a Natural Sciences Curator (for a whole 21 more days before I become an ex curator), I feel duty bound to recommend you visit your local museum and find out if:

a) they have bats in their collection

b) they’d like someone to look at them

c) they’d like someone to study them

Why’s that? I hear you ask.

Well you never know just what you’ll find, there might be something worthy of further research and you’ll very likely get to test your ID skills.

Here’s what I found on a recent visit to Leeds Museum.

photo4

Labelled as Daubenton’s

photo2

This error should be straightforward.

photo3One of Arthur Whitaker’s bats (Arthur Whitaker’s Bats: a booklet reprint of edited articles from the Barnsley born ‘pioneer bat-worker ‘  that had appeared in serial form in The Naturalist in 1905-13 track it down if you can).

 

Tablet or phone powered bat detection is almost here.

It’s great to see two developments nearing completion which both revolve around Dodotronic’s UltraMic and mobile computing.

The Ultradroid is Dodotronic’s effort to produce something that will work with Android phones and tablets to allow bat detection and possibly identification in the field. From the looks of things it’s almost ready

More info here: http://www.dodotronic.com/acoustic-devices/ultradroid

and then there’s Cyberio’s Acounet Soundchaser designed for Windows tablets and netbooks:

More info here: http://acounect.fr/wp/2013/01/15/observe-nature-without-disturbing/image-sc-en/

and there’s more interesting work from Acounet with their Bat Flight Path Tracking system which uses multiple mic’s to plot bat movement in 3D space.

Here’s a comment from Alban on the Acounet developments

“The future of bat detectors it’s coming
Hello, I’m Alban student from the University of Grenoble France. Actually I work for a startup, which has developed software and hardware in bioacoustics, especially for bats.
I have the pleasure to inform you, we are just finishing to develop The SoundChaser, a new software for bat detection on laptop and TABLET PC. I have done a short video to present you the different functionalities (Heterody, Oscillogram, Time expension, Sonogram, Timeline, File player, Recorder). Sorry it’s in French but I put subtitle in English and I didn’t show all the functionalities. I’m waiting the spring to make a new video on the field and show the advantages of this technology.

We work too on a very interesting project: Flight Path Tracking. The priciple it’s simple, we install an antenna on the field, equip with 4 microphones to register the pulses. We calculate the difference of reception of the pulse between the different microphones and thanks a powerfull algorythm we obtain the coordinates X,Y,Z of each pulse. Moreover we can reconstitute the bats trajectories in 3D environment. You can see the result on this video:
Any questions contact me alban.dubois@cyberio-dsi.com

Titley Scientific bought out – A future for Anabat

Breaking news is that Titley Scientific have been bought out by Elexon (details here) which should give a future for both SD2 development and a future supply of the Anabat Roost Logger which I’ve currently got on test and so far have been very pleased with. Note there’s possibly going to be a new distributor in the UK.

For all repairs and support at the moment I’d recommend :http://www.anabat.co.uk/

The addictive nature of research – Lesser Horseshoe bats in Bowland.

The object of all our effort.

It’s that time of year again when survey effort switches from the anti social dawn and dusk hours to the easier daytime, and we start to head underground to monitor swarming and hibernation sites.

Like Captain Ahab and his white whale, a somewhat smaller mammal has been keeping us searching for four years now since we first encountered a Lesser Horseshoe bat while out surveying caves in Bowland, Lancashire on Halloween (you couldn’t make it up).

The cave in question has a peak in temperature from mid October to mid November and our theory is the the bats use this to extend feeding opportunities a little bit longer as the nights get cold. And then they disappear possibly into inaccessible areas to hibernate.

From the DNA work we’ve done so far we know the Bowland bat seems to take a more basal position to current populations in North Wales and Somerset supporting our theory that we’re dealing with a remnant of the former northern range of the species rather than a recent arrival. Lessers survived in Yorkshire until 1944 in the Helmsley area so it’s not too hard to believe that an overlooked colony in a little surveyed area of ideal habitat survived unnoticed.

But the advances in our knowledge of the species here have come scattered amongst a whole load of survey effort (I don’t want to add up the hours) a bit like the return on a slot machine that makes them so addictive.

So we’re at that point again when an encounter will fill in another little gap of information, one step closer to understanding. Addictive, frustrating, time consuming and verging on an obsession but so so worth it, let’s face it if there wasn’t a challenge, if the answers came easily, it wouldn’t be half as much fun would it?…

Anabat Roost Logger

Anabat Roost Logger

 

I had a good look at the Anabat Roost Logger over the weekend of the National Bat Conference and Chris Corben was good enough to install the drivers on my laptop as well as hand over a folder of recording to get a taste of what it’s capable of recording.

On first look I’m interested. Whilst it isn’t a full blown recording detector capable of species identification, the Roost Logger will enable measurement of activity and identification to genus level. Whilst the microphone is most sensitive at 42khz the results included Lesser Horseshoe calls though the bats have to be within a couple of metres to record from what I’m told. For research into swarming and roost sites this should prove very useful for finding out when bats are active and getting an idea of what you’re likely to encounter. So Roost Logger deployed first to see where to focus survey effort and more expensive kit makes perfect sense.

The whole kit is enclosed within a small pelicase which should make stashing the detector fairly easy in most sites.

I’ve got an Anabat Roost Logger on the way for review and will be getting it straight out monitoring a cave so expect a review by the end of October……

The future of bat detectors

Don’t get too excited, it’s only a mock up

The basic rule of technology is everyhting gets smaller, more capable and cheaper, though so far the application of that rule to bat detectors seems stalled at the £1000 mark for anything of serious use.

I’ve been using Ultramics for two years now to capture realtime full spectrum recordings at Myotis swarming sites. Up until now that’s required a netbook to run the software, not massively cumbersome but combine it with infrared video kit and a trek across moorland and you certainly feel the weight.

So it was good to hear from Ivano at Dodotronic that they’re working on an android compatible version of the Ultramic; the Ultradroid. A small ultrasound microphone combined with the computing power of a 7″ tablet? The potential to record, geolocate and identify bat calls in realtime all with a full colour easily visible display?

I’ve already bought a Google Nexus7 tablet, I’m ready.

 

A new Anabat on the way? – Updated

It looks like Titley Scientific are about to release a new version of the Anabat built specifically for long term monitoring in caves, tunnels and roosts.

Anabat Roost Logger

The features all seem sensible enough:

  • Long running times on internal batteries
  • Temperature logging
  • Waterproof case
  • Sealed mic

The rugged peli case style housing looks up to the job and the (let’s hope) waterproof mic will be a great step forward for Anabat. But it raises the question; will the sealed mic be available to retrofit existing detectors?

A long time bugbear of the Anabat when used underground is the, what seems to be, inevitable burn out of the mic once condensation builds. My record is 5 mics in a season monitoring Myotis swarming sites, not just an expense but also frustrating because of lost data and downtime.

As an existing user I don’t want to replace the Anabats I already own, I want a mic that allows me to use them without that headache. It’s one reason I’ve been contemplating switching to the SM2Bat+ from Wildlife Acoustics.

Let’s hope there’s some good news for existing users too.

UPDATE

With a price of £307.20 the Anabat Roost Logger could be a game changer although that depends if it’s capable of species identification or just Monitoring activity levels and temporal patterns at any roost.

Whilst the Titley webpage states it’s compatible with existing software it’s a bit vague on what information is captured. Activity and species ID for under £500? Maybe that’s a bit ‘moon on a stick’ at the moment.

If it is just an activity logger it’s still a useful bit of kit of course, especially for initial swarming site research, but you’ll need to place more expensive kit in the field to identify what bat species are using your site.

*** Update as of 4.9.2012 Reply from Titley states that the datalogger “still presents data in sequence file and ZCA formats, the same as all previous Anabat units. The major difference is the ability to deploy it for long periods and program it to record selectively as the season changes”.

 

One step closer to automatic ID of bat echolocation

News from iBats is the development of iBatsID a tool for classifying bat calls using ensembles of artificial neural networks (eANN’s) to classify time-expanded recordings of bat echolocation calls from 34 European bat species.

The tool has been trained to identify echolocation calls of Barbastella barbastellus, Eptesicus bottae, E. nilssonii, E. serotinus, Hypsugo savii, Miniopterus schreibersii, Myotis alcathoe, M. bechsteinii, M. blythii, M. brandtii, M. capaccinii, M. dasycneme, M. daubentonii, M. emarginatus, M. myotis, M. mystacinus, M. punicus, Nyctalus lasiopterus, N. leisleri, N. noctula, Pipistrellus kuhlii, P. nathusii, P. pipistrellus, P. pygmaeus, Plecotus auritus, P. austriacus, Rhinolophus blasii, R. euryale, R. ferrumequinum, R. hipposideros, R. mehelyi, Tadarida teniotis, Vespertilio murinus. A fairly comprehensive list.

At present  ID of M. bechsteinii/M. brandtii/ M. daubentonii/ M. mystacinus is only to sub group rather than to species level ( M. myotis/M. blythii/M. punicus;  M. bechsteinii/M. brandtii/ M. daubentonii/ M. mystacinus;  M. emarginatus/M. alcathoe for European readers)

But it’s a great start. The only downside is the current need to process calls with Sonobat first to extract a text file of call parameters.

We can’t be too far now from integrating capturing, geolocating, analysing and identifying echolocation in a single app on a smartphone or tablet such as the Nexus 7.

Link to the paper: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2012.02182.x/pdf

Link to the iBatsID site: https://sites.google.com/site/ibatsresources/iBatsID