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'Citizen Scientists' invited to help record Europe's bat population

Thursday October 04, 2012 08:03:19 PM, IANS

London: A website that is a collaboration of many institutes working for the conservation of bats is calling on "citizen scientists" to help researchers monitor and record the population of bats in Europe.

The "Bat Detective" website needs people to help identify bat calls to help develop automated identification tools, BBC reported.

The programme is a partnership project among University College London, Zoological Society of London, The Bat Conservation Trust, BatLife Europe, University of Auckland, and the Citizen Science Alliance.

The site converts "normally inaudible bat calls" into something humans can hear and provides information needed to help visitors identify species, the report said.

Scientists say understanding bat populations provides an important indicator of ecosystem health.

"Bats use a lot of different types of sounds, from singing to each other to find a mate and to using echoes from their tweets to find their way around," Kate Jones, joint chairwoman of ecology and biology at the University College of London (UCL) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), was quoted as saying.

"Usually, bat sounds are inaudible to humans as they are too high for us to hear but special 'time expansion' ultrasonic detectors convert these sounds to a lower frequency," said Jones, also the chairwoman of the UK Bat Conservation Trust.

"Visitors to the Bat Detective website can listen to these unique recordings and help us distinguish different sounds."

Conservationists say one in four species are threatened with extinction.

"We hope hundreds of thousands of people will help us listen in to what the bats are saying and to also build important tools for conservation," said Chris Lintott from the University of Oxford, who led the team that designed and built the website.

BBC said that in a recent paper in the Journal of Applied Ecology, researchers published details about a freely available online tool used to identify the calls of bat species found in Europe.

Data collected by volunteers across Europe allowed them to develop the identification tool, iBatsID, which has been used to identify 34 out of continent's 45 known species.





 

 

 

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