|A team of British bat researchers have developed the ultimate batphone: iBats.|
It’s an iPhone and Android app that can be used to identify and geolocate bats. All the user has to do is point his or her phone into the night sky and record the sounds of the bats flying above.
The phone picks up the animals’ echolocation pulses – ultrasonic sounds bats use to locate prey – and uploads them to a central database.
The app will save effort and time for thousands of volunteers who currently lug around at least three pieces of equipment to do this job.
Currently, a special microphone attachment is required to record the bats.
The Indicator Bats Program (iBats) is a partnership project between BCT and The Institute of Zoology (IoZ) . It aims to develop national bat monitoring programs across the globe in order to generate long-term data on biodiversity indicator species, helping assess the impact of national development and global change.
Such data is crucial for the successful implementation of resolutions arising from the United Nations Environmental Program's (UNEP) Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Bats are ideal to use as indicators of changes in environmental quality and biodiversity in general because of their ecological requirements and their sensitivity to environmental change.
The iBats project continually seeks to develop new technologies to improve the efficiency and sustainability of the project. We are currently developing an iPhone application which can be directly attached to an ultrasonic detector to record grid references, sound files and other survey data along the route. The geo-referenced sound files are then automatically uploaded onto the iBats web portal post survey.
In addition, we are developing automatic methods of identifying and extracting calls from long sequences and working on a neural classification network based on call parameters to identify the calls to species. We hope to include these algorithms into the iPhone app in the future to give real time analysis of surveys to volunteers in the field.