A new online tool just launched by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) opens up the previously hidden world of bats, bush crickets and small mammals. The BTO Acoustic Pipeline provides cutting-edge acoustic identification of bats and other nocturnal wildlife to new audiences, so internet users can find out what species are present in the audio recordings they have collected. This will help both interested naturalists and those involved in assessing the importance of sites for rare or protected species.
Bats, bush crickets, and small mammals can be difficult species to study. While most habits are usually nocturnal and difficult to spot, it’s possible to identify them from the calls and other noises they make. The increasing use and affordability of bat detectors means that many more people can now keep records of these species, including the use of “passive” detectors that can be left in one location to automatically record what is being called. The recordings can then be forwarded through special computer programs that compare unknown calls with an extensive sound library of known calls from a number of target types, thus enabling identification.
Nathusius’ Pipistrelle, Copyright Mark Hows, from the Surfbirds Galleries
The BTO Acoustic Pipeline, which makes these newly developed programs available to anyone with a computer and internet connection, consists of two main parts: a small desktop program that manages the uploads of recordings and a website where you review and review them can download results. The pipeline is currently focused on 24 European bat species, but also identifies 13 small mammals and 11 bush crickets. New taxa are constantly being added as the pipeline continues to be an important resource.
The system is aimed at a wide range of users and has been set up so that the records submitted are made available to scientists involved in the study and monitoring of these species under study.
Dr. Stuart Newson, one of the scientists behind the pipeline, commented, “I am very excited about the launch of the BTO Acoustic Pipeline, not least because it uses methods other than traditional desktop packages and greatly improves the quality and accuracy of the results returned. The way the system was set up should support both interested individuals and larger commercial entities, making this type of technology much more accessible to all. ‘
More information about the Acoustic Pipeline and how it works can be found on the BTO website at: https://bto.org/pipeline