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).

 

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.

 

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

 

British Bat Calls – Is this the year?

Logging into NHBS tonight I noticed there’s now a cover shot and anticipated publication date of June 2012 for British Bats – A Guide to Identification Using Sound Analysis. John Russ, Sandie Sowler et al.

It’s good to see that we might finally be able to get this long overdue book and almost in time for the 2012 bat surveying season. Let’s hope technology has moved on too much since it was first written.