SciEnvy

For All Things Environmental Science
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Conservation

A Wild Bustard Chase in Portugal (and Spain)

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In April 2019 I joined my Portugal based PhD supervisor Dr João Paulo Silva along with one of his other PhD students Filipa Soares for a week of fieldwork. The aim: Catch and tag as many little bustard Tetrax tetrax males as possible. The reason? This species is currently designated as ‘Near Threatened’ on the IUCN red list but is thought to be in ‘Rapid Decline’ across much of its range aside from France where populations are thought to be stable. Many researchers are now advocating for the species to be listed as ‘Vulnerable’ or even ‘Endangered’. High resolution GPS telemetry can help us better understand the migration behaviour, habitat needs and identify key threats to this species which in turn can inform conservation action to halt the decline. The GPS loggers also carry a number of other sensors such as temperature, accelerometer and barometer so we can remotely relate the behaviour and activity of the bird to environmental factors such as the weather. This field work was also a great opportunity for me to gain more experience in deploying the loggers on smaller birds ahead of fieldwork to deploy loggers on white storks Ciconia ciconia later on in my PhD.

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How can AI help bats in Borneo?

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What do you think of when you think of Borneo’s wildlife? Maybe Orangutans or Birds of paradise? For most people, bats aren’t the first group that spring to mind but they are an integral part of Borneo’s tropical rainforests. There are over 1300 species of bats worldwide (that’s four times as many bats as there are primates) and they make up 40% of Borneo’s land mammal species. As well as dispersing the seeds of approx. 300 tree species on the island they are also vital in regulating insect populations by consuming over half their body weight in insects each night. Sadly, just as with many more well recognised species, bats in Borneo are severely threatened by habitat loss and deforestation from logging and palm oil plantations.

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