The past 15 years or so have had technological transformations in the area of ecology surveys. These changes are realised due to the technological advances being utilised by the ecology surveys providers. Of course, these advancements at times come with challenges not only to you but with your ecological surveyor as they try to stay updated with the available technology but are very effective.
One example that shows huge steps taken in technology usage in ecological surveys is the proliferation of various bat detectors in the past decade. Now the heterodyne detector that was used to identify the presence of bats through the frequency of their echolocation is no longer in use. A range of equipment is used together with a very ‘sophisticated’ software to make recordings of the bat acoustic for later analysis. This way, a far more robust data set for assessment is collected.
The eDNA analysis is a technological advancement that changes the way an ecological surveyor approaches survey. The method is used to determine the likelihood of the presence or absence of great crested newts. It is a great idea to replace old survey techniques with modern more effective and less expensive technology.
The past few years have seen the ecology departments employ thermal imaging and motion-activated infra-red cameras to supplement conventional survey and monitoring techniques. These have enabled the experts to capture footage of the fauna in real time instead of making inferences about their habitat or activity using methods that would get acoustic recordings or field signs only.
Motion-activated infra-red cameras are great for saving expenses, time and improving accuracy. Since they are triggered by movement, the amount of footage generated is limited and concentrated on the animals surveyed. Also, unlike traditional methods, these cameras are effective in capturing unpredictable optimum conditions of animals. Your ecological surveyor doesn’t have to use techniques such as visual survey or pitfall trapping. These are intrusive and resource hungry methods that produce conditioned results of the animal behaviour. Generally, this improves the entire ecological surveys activity and at the same time maximises efficiency and minimises expenses and time used.
Thermal imaging cameras are also significantly changing ecological surveys. They are highly effective and very cheap to deploy. These significantly increase survey accuracy. One can actually monitor the behaviour of nocturnal animals including bats. These have helped in the successful identifying of roosting of bats in various habitats and the swarming activity of the animals. Bats, plovers, lapwings, and badger are animals that can be identified and surveyed at night with the help of thermal imaging cameras.
Prospects to use drones to reach extremely inaccessible areas are there for many ecological surveyors. This can maximise the results obtained in ecological surveys. There are surveyors who are already using drones to get high-resolution video and still footages. A significant amount of survey can be done using these technological devices. One can observe a great deal of vegetation cover and bat roost potential as well as habitat and behaviour of other animals.