During the early stages of the development of a JRS funded project, Enhancing Knowledge for Establishing Ecosystem Conservation Priorities in the Neotropics, there was discussion about developing a public access for bat call information. That project took many turns during the development and completion; however the creation of a public access source for bat calls of known species did not come to pass.
While one set of interactive identification keys was developed for two families (Mormoopidae and Noctilionidae) and made freely available as a result of the project, it is now possible to complete such ID keys for additional families. Each species has a unique vocal signature that allows identification of free flying bats. This provides a non-invasive means of conducting surveys and application to conservation by expanding knowledge of distributions of species rarely captured, but otherwise wide spread and poorly known.
Key Objectives and Activities
Data are on hand with archives of more than 1,000,000 call sequences recorded from southeastern Mexico south to Bolivia. This information includes recordings from Caribbean islands and mainland of Central and South America. It takes years to gain experience to identify bats by their vocal signatures if one is starting from scratch. With the aid of the interactive identification keys researchers and conservation managers who are recording bats will now be able to identify their own data and in the process, hopefully become proficient in identifying future recordings.
Planned Outputs and Outcomes
This project will be using the data that resides in Neotropical bat call archives recorded by Bruce Miller with contributions from others to create interactive identification keys for all know species of Neotropical bats. This project will also compile all published records for all for the Neotropical bat species calls and incorporate them into the ID keys.
An important issue of identifying any species is to ascertain where they are likely to be found, in order to avoid confusion of characteristics. The project will provide species distribution maps, both in a graphical format such as JPG and made available as geographic information system files (i.e. shape files).
In the process of developing the identification keys, species specific filters in the format used by the AnalookW program will be created that will allow users to scan their own data and have tentative ID names added to their files.
Primary Software Platforms
While much of the data in the achieves is from one system or recording the AnaBat™ system that uses zero-crossing analysis, many other equipment manufacturers are using other technology to record WAV files and use full spectrum analysis. Here both formats will be used for the construction of the interactive identification keys. In order to enhance these efforts additional records using full spectrum recording methods will be made available with the most widely applicable keys for all potential users. It is believed that this endeavor will for the first time provide comprehensive resources online free for both bat conservation and science.