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AI used to identify bat call types as Bailiwick Bat Survey enters final year

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Monday 08 April 2024

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been used to identify bat call types in what is thought to be a 'world first' as the Bailiwick Bat Survey enters its final year.

Machine-learning, which is a type of AI, was used to distinguish between social calls and feeding buzzes in different bat species. Social calls have a wide variety of functions including mating, whereas feeding buzzes are used to pinpoint the exact location of prey.

Being able to identify these calls has multiple benefits including the identification of different species and conservation. This is particularly important for bats, which act as an indicator of the health of a local environment.

In 2023, volunteers provided 3.8 million sound recordings of Guernsey's nocturnal wildlife across 582 different locations within the Bailiwick, providing an important insight into the lives of some of Guernsey's more elusive species. The results of these recordings were then analysed using AI and manual auditing.

This citizen science research commenced in 2021 and is a four-year partnership project between the British Trust for Ornithology and Agriculture, Countryside and Land Management Services, with the co-ordination of the project being undertaken by La Société Guernesiaise.

As part of this, volunteers sign up to borrow a detector for a period of four to six nights which collects sound recording files.

This year will be the last chance to take part in this project and anyone wanting to volunteer can visit bats.org.gg where the booking portal is now live.

Emily Coule, Natural Environment Officer, said:

"Improving our knowledge of nature through research like this is crucial to be able to make informed decisions about our environment. As it says in Guernsey's Strategy for Nature, not having this data is a very real threat to biodiversity as we simply can't make evidence-based decisions. This is why it has been so important to have had the support of so many volunteers throughout this work, and why it's so important for islanders to get involved again as we head into our final year. The additional information provided by the AI analysis this year is providing us with an even better understanding of how bats use our island, which, in turn, will help us better understand how we can protect these important populations."

The Bailiwick Bat Survey 2023 Report is available at bats.org.gg with the results including the discovery of the Leisler's bat in Sark for the first time.

 

Photo credit: Daniel Hargreaves

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