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The Daily Bucket is a place where we post and exchange our observations about what is happening in the natural world in our neighborhood. Each note about the bugs, buds, and birds around us is a record that we can refer to in the future as we try to understand the patterns of nature that are quietly unwinding around us.
Western barbastelle bats
Citizen Science projects are becoming more numerous and interesting. In them, you are invited to participate in analysis of large data sets along with many other people. The efforts of many make quicker work of data reduction to the most important and valuable parts. One of my favorite sites is called Zooniverse. You can participate in projects under the headings of Space, Climate, Humanities, Nature, and Health.

A few days ago, Zooniverse announced their partnership with another citizen science project called Bat Detective. Join me below the swirly orange bat flight path for more information about this project. You might want to join it.

Why the study of bats?

Here is an excerpt from the web site telling about the reasons.

Many people believe that monitoring the status of bat populations can help tell us about the health of a natural environment as a whole; the bats serve as an early warning, like a canary in a coal mine. This is because bat species are distributed all over the world, and provide lots of services to humans through controlling pests by eating vast quantities of insects and pollinating and dispersing commercially important crops (for example bananas, tequila). Bat biology also makes them sensitive to human impacts, for example they typically only have one offspring a year and so bat populations take a long time to recover after disturbance. Many species are also very sensitive to climate and migrate or hibernate in different seasons, making them particularly vulnerable to climate change.
Visual surveys are difficult because bats are small, nocturnal, and hard to catch. Acoustic surveys are more commonplace now to help monitor the over 1000 species which use echolocation for navigation, hunting, and socialization. The different uses of echolocation call for different types of chirps of sound. And, these sounds are out of the range of human hearing.

Special ultrasonic microphones record the calls and transform them into a display called a sonogram. It displays time on the horizontal axis and frequency on the vertical. Color is used to show the intensity of the sound. Here is an example. More about the data collection here.

For the initial launch of Bat Detective, we are using the recordings made by a number of different iBats community groups and other organisations in Europe. These include iBats Romania (Romanian Bat Protection Association), iBats Bulgaria (Green Balkans), iBats Hungary, iBats Ukraine, iBats Russia (Presevet), iBats UK (Bat Conservation Trust). Recordings have also been donated by partners in BatLife Europe.
If you are interested in helping with this project, go to this link. You will be guided through the process.

➜ Your turn to chirp in. Are there bats in your belfry? What do you think of them? How is your weather? Are there notable changes in your backyard you would like to share? The floor is yours.

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