Here’s a heartening story of technological innovation put to worthwhile use.
Bat researchers have come up with a free online tool, iBatsID, that can identify European bats through their calls, and which they say will help with bat conservation. Because bats are nocturnal and hard to see, acoustic methods have long been used to monitor them but in the past there was no standardised tool for identifying species from their calls.
Research published this week in the Journal of Applied Ecology used artificial neural networks to classify calls from 34 species of bat, leading to development of iBatsID.
Woodland and other habitats with trees such as wood pasture are important for a number of bat species. As they are sensitive to changes in their environment, understanding what is happening to bat populations can help us to understand impacts on the rest of the wildlife in those habitats.
As well as being important indicators of biodiversity, bats make up around a quarter of our mammal species in the UK, with 18 species found here, but unfortunately they have suffered severe declines in the last century.
Sian Atkinson, Conservation Communications & Evidence Adviser