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The British Bat Survey

Bat monitoring technology has improved rapidly since the inception of the National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) in 1996. BCT are working with researchers from University College London, Oxford University and the British Trust for Ornithology to develop a new survey for the NBMP, the British Bat Survey, which will utilise the latest developments in acoustic sensor design, automated call recognition and interactive volunteer feedback. Aspects of this survey were piloted in 2017 and 2018. Here is some of the work underway so far:

The world’s first end-to-end system for monitoring bats at national and international scales

Eventually we aim to launch the British Bat Survey nationally. To enable this the project team are developing an automated, end-to-end system for monitoring bats. This system will include a low-cost full spectrum bat detector, an app that allows volunteers to send audio recordings to a central server for processing, a suite of software algorithms that automatically detect and classify bat calls to species and a portal to feed the results back to volunteers. This system will be integrated into the British Bat Survey, and as much of the technology as possible will be open source.

Trialling a new low-cost full spectrum acoustic sensor

We are working with a team of researchers led by Professor Alex Rogers at the University of Oxford to trial the use of Audiomoth acoustic sensors for bat population monitoring. In 2017 we provided Audiomoths to bat groups taking part in our ‘Putting UK Woodland Bats on the Map’ project and in 2018 we trialled Audiomoths in the Scottish pilot of the British Bat Survey. This is allowing us to assess the usability, sensitivity and recording quality of the detector.

BatDetect and BatIdentify

We have been working with a team of machine learning professionals and computer programmers at UCL to develop open-source software to detect bat calls in noisy recordings (BatDetect) and identify them to genus and species level (BatIdentify). The BatDetect software was published earlier this year - you can read it here - and performs well in comparison to other commercial software. You can access the source code here. BatIdentify is currently in the process of being tested and verified and we hope this will be published soon too.

Designing a new interactive results portal

We are working with Dr Stuart Newson and colleagues at the British Trust for Ornithology to develop an online portal that will provide rapid and engaging feedback to British Bat Survey volunteers.  Existing NBMP volunteers inputted into the design of this portal through a questionnaire and workshop in 2017.  Since then, a series of interactive data visualisations have been developed to show the different species detected in each survey, as well as to compare and map bat activity across space and time. The portal was trialled as part of the survey pilot in 2018.

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Bat Helpline

0345 1300 228