We are using a variety of novel and established technology in each of the four field sites with the aim of identifying which methods best suit each environment and species that we are studying so that they can then be easily applied to similar studies.
In Nepal and Borneo we are using the Browning Dark Ops Camera Trap, a model which is becoming increasingly popular among camera trappers due to their small size and value for money. These cameras are dark flash which means they emit no light and so have minimal impact on wildlife behaviour and reduce the chance of theft. In Kenya, where there are very large herds of herbivores, we are pairing the cameras with 32GB memory cards to ensure that we will be able to service all the cameras before the memory fills up. In Nepal this should be less of an issue so we are using 16GB memory cards. We are also using rechargeable batteries in both sites even though Lithium batteries have a longer life as we want to reduce the amount of waste we are producing as much as possible.
We are trialling the use of acoustic sensors (AudioMoths) alongside our camera traps in a savannah ecosystem in Kenya to collect data on a greater diversity of wildlife (insects, amphibians, birds, bats). We also plan to set-up a full grid in the subtropical dry forests of Nepal. AudioMoth is a low-cost, full-spectrum acoustic logger that can listen at audible and ultrasonic frequencies.
Autonomous Acoustic Sensors
Our partners at Imperial College London have developed a continuous, long-term fully autonomous acoustic monitoring device which has been deployed at the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) field site in Borneo to monitor vocalising wildlife. The acoustic device is capable of capturing and remotely transmitting continuous data streams from field sites over long time-periods. The solar powered device is based on a Raspberry Pi, and transmits data through a mobile network link to a central server to provide a near real-time stream of data. The system is robust to unreliable network signals, and has been shown to function in extreme environmental conditions. See Sarab's new paper in Methods in Ecology and Evolution.
At our marine site in Fiji, we will survey fish communities along transects using a diver-operated stereo-video system. This method will allow us to monitor fish communities quickly, and estimate fish biomass more accurately.