Watching and Listening…Oh (Big) Brother…

Watching and Listening…Oh (Big) Brother…

Time truly flies by when you’re having fun! It’s hard to believe that almost a month has passed since I started this internship. In the last couple of weeks I’ve had the pleasure of staying busy with various types of tasks and projects! But let’s get on with the main event…

My main project while at this placement is to work in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy on monitoring wetlands restoration within Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP), through the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act. This will primarily be done by passive monitoring efforts using Autonomous Recording Units (ARUs) and Adapted-Hunt Drift Fence Technique (AHDriFT).

The ARU’s are little audio recording units, these will (probably) be programmed to listen to amphibians, birds, and bats in the restored habitats. There are various types of sound, infrasound, audible, and ultrasound; infrasound is sound that is too low for us to hear (like elephants, and whales).…well…what we hear in our day to day lives and ultrasound is sound that is too high for us to hear (like a majority of bat calls in North America). With these units we will be able to tell auditorily and visually using computer programs, which species are using the area and how it changes over time after invasive species are removed from the wetlands.

The AHDriFT is a type of fence that is approximately 50 meters long, and has two buckets at the end of it. The bucket has a motion sensored camera at the top and has an entryway for small animals to climb in and investigate. We don’t bait the buckets since we don’t want to skew any of our data. In other setups we often see insects, small mammals (or as I call them..smammals), and herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians). These pictures will allow us to visually see who is occupying the wetlands and how that also changes over time of the restoration project.

(Here’s a picture of a beaver hut from when we were surveying areas for unit deployment)

The benefit of passive monitoring (PM) versus active monitoring is that PM causes less disturbance to the habitat and surrounding wildlife. One of the drawbacks is that it creates more data for processing later. The hope is to gather the data and integrate community science into the project. This aspect is still in development and hopefully will be accessible for online participation, along with equipment/deployment checkups.

Aside from my main project I have been and will continue to assist in other wildlife monitoring efforts such as Monitoring Avian Population and Survivorship (MAPS), butterfly surveys, and mussel surveys.

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