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Ella
Browning
Ella Browning
2016
Biodiversity and Ecology
PhD Research

Using ecoacoustics to understand anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity: a case study on European bats

Bats are considered to be important indicators of ecosystem health – their status and trends reflect the overall well-being of the species and habitats on which they rely – and their echolocation makes passive acoustics an ideal monitoring tool. Despite this, the population status of many European species is unknown and there is little quantitative evidence for the impact of anthropogenic activities on bat populations and vital foraging and social behaviours. Current survey methods have limited our ability to address these knowledge gaps as existing methodologies only monitor a subset of the species present or are restricted to certain habitats, such as roads. This project aims to generate robust European bat population trend estimates and understand the drivers behind them. To achieve this, I will develop an open, accurate and validated automated classification system for European bat calls that is not dependent on commercial software. This will build upon a recently developed UK level classifier. I will then develop a new survey design, using low cost acoustic sensors to monitor bats across a wide landscape in high-density grids. A classifier for feeding buzzes and social calls will then be created, facilitating not only the investigation of bat presence within the landscape, but also how bats are using certain habitats. These new classifiers, coupled with new survey methods, will provide a pipeline for monitoring bats at a national and international scale to understand the impacts of environmental change on population trends and behaviour.
Kate Jones
UCL
Robin Freeman
IOZ
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ella.browning.14@ucl.ac.uk

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