With the help of many volunteers, the Batting For Bayside project has been collecting records of microbats in Bayside using Anabat detectors. These detectors can detect and record the high-pitched call made by these tiny little bats as they fly around at night. Microbats may be almost impossible to see, but with the help of this technology we can hear their presence.
An added benefit of the Anabat detectors is that we can download the calls to a computer. Using special software, we then try to identify the bat species.
We have been very fortunate to be able to borrow these Anabat detectors from ARCUE. Our initial access was for only a few days in late November 2013, allowing a small group of core people to learn how to use the equipment. ARCUE subsequently provided the Anabats on extended loan from early February through to mid August.
This extended loan period allowed the initial core group to run several training sessions, during which anyone interested was taught how to use the detectors to detect microbats. Once trained, these people were invited to borrow an Anabat for use in their own part of Bayside.
In this way we have so far gathered more than 5,700 recordings using the Anabat detectors. Most of these were not actual bats: to an Anabat there are many other things that may sound like a bat, including some insects, rubbing your fingers together, a rotating bicycle wheel, and a rustling coat.
Each recording must be opened in a program called Analookw, and a decision made as to whether it is a bat call or not. If it isn't, it is deleted. If it is, then we try to identify the species.
As you can imagine, there is a lot of work involved in looking at each of more than 5,700 files, deciding whether each is a bat call, and identifying the species. And of course a list of which species we detected is of limited interest on its own. So we have also been developing software to assist in generating useful tables and graphs of the results. This software is nearing version 1.0, which means we will soon be able to start publishing results.
We hope that gathering this data will help us improve the local habitat for these important parts of our ecosystem. Knowing what species we have, and when they are around, will guide us in design and placement of bat houses. The data will also help us understand which areas of Bayside, and which types of habitat, are preferred for which species. Over time, this information can be used to ensure we do not inadvertently destroy these tiny, almost invisible creatures that appear to be vital to controlling insect numbers in Bayside.
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