Acoustic identification of bats

What participants say about the 2016 bats course...
“High-level content, training providers were perfect, clear in the explanation and capable of giving birth to a passion.”
“I had no idea that bioacoustic studies were so interesting and fascinating.”
“I was very satisfied by the rigorous scientific approach held by the training provider and by the good balance between field activity and computer work.”
“Surely this course has amplified my knowledges and improved my curriculum vitae.”
“I appreciated very much the strong scientific approach used for the analysis of bat records.”

Description of project
Bats are the second most diverse order of mammals worldwide. Besides, many bat species are threatened by human-driven habitat loss or alteration, as well as by the development of infrastructures or wind farms. In biodiversity surveys and environmental impact assessments, identifying bats in the field has thus become a central issue. Bats are nocturnal, elusive and hard to catch, so non-invasive methods such as acoustic identification of bat calls represent a powerful means of surveying bats in the field. Appropriate acoustic identification, however, requires a solid knowledge of theoretical aspects and practical skills. This short, intensive course covers the theoretical background and offers hands-on experience so that the trainees will learn rapidly and effectively the main techniques needed to record and identify bat calls. This course may be especially useful to those who are interested in bat biology and ecology including field researchers, students as well as consultancy staff working on environmental impact assessment and windfarm preconstruction surveys or monitoring of existing turbines.

No prior knowledge of the subject is needed. The course will also be most useful for those already using bat detectors and is aimed to cover a range of expectations from basic to advanced. Field practicals will be carried out by using Pettersson Elektronik detectors, but trainees are more than welcome to bring their own bat detector if they own one. Sound analysis will be done by the BatSound software (Pettersson Elektronik, Sweden). 

Important note: please be aware that no course may seriously offer training to recognize all European bat species. Some groups, such as bats in the genus Myotis, are objectively difficult (sometimes impossible) to tell apart. Today, automated identification software packages are available on the market. Although these rely on sophisticated multivariate algorithms, for most species automated identification cannot provide a 100% reliable identification. Besides, many of these packages await independent validation. Although the software can be seen as a tool to process large amounts of data, it will still require visual checking of recordings for a subset of the recordings processed so it cannot (reliably) replace human intervention. 
Overall, this course will provide the fundamental knowledge to understand the biology of echolocation, make an appropriate use of bat detectors and correctly carry out sound analysis. Most importantly, the course will clarify the possibilities and limits of acoustic identification. 

Field work and lectures during the 2016 training.

Bat Exhibition Centre                                                                              Webcamscreen at the Centre

Pettersson Elektronik (Sweden) is greatly acknowledged for providing a number of bat detectors and allowing trainees to use the BatSound software during the course.

All activities will be carried out in the Abruzzo Lazio and Molise National Park, central Italy. This is one of the most important European parks and is home to many exciting animal species, from brown bears to wolves and Apennine chamois. The area also hosts 24 bat species and is the ideal location to acquire hands-on experience in acoustic identification.

The course will run in the wonderful historical centre of Barrea, in the heart of the Abruzzo Lazio and Molise National Park, hosted by the City Council in the new Bat Exhibition Centre – an ideal set for the lectures and indoor practicals. In June-August, a webcam makes it possible to observe on a screen in the centre the daytime behaviour of a nursery colony of over 150 greater horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum)  roosting in a nearby building. Wi-fi is available both in the centre and at the hotel.

Training period
14 - 17 June 2017
Participants should reach Barrea on the 14th by 17.00 so that they will be able to join the evening practicals on the same day and the morning lectures on the 15th. Participant departure is planned on the 17th at 12:00. On the 14th, participants will be welcomed by the course staff in Barrea at 17.00. The meeting point is the entrance of the 'Bat Exhibition Centre'.

Course description
The course will last three days and consists of lectures, indoor and field practical activities taking place at the premises of the Abruzzo National Park.

Practical experiences
Field recording of echolocation and social calls broadcast by bats; laboratory (PC-assisted sound analysis).

Basics of bat biology; echolocation; acoustic identification of bats; sound analysis.

Course schedule
Day 1 - Wednesday 14 June: 
20:30  Brief practical introduction to bat detectors - field work

Day 2 - Thursday 15 June: 
08:30-12:30  Lectures. Basics of sound analysis, Bat echolocation, Echolocation call structure.
13:00-15:00  Lunch at the hotel.
15:10-18:00  Indoor practicals. Use of sound analysis software. Analysis of selected bat calls from different species.
20:00-23:00  Field work. Field recording of bat calls in forest. Demonstration of usage of manual and automatic bat recorders.

Day 3 - Friday 16 June: 
09:00-11:00  Lecture. Qualitative vs. quantitative identification of bat calls.
11:30-12:30  Indoor practicals. Analysis of bat calls recorded on previous evening.
13:00-15:00  Lunch.
15:00-18:00  Analysis of bat calls recorded on previous evening
20:00-23:00  Field work. Field recording of bat calls in different habitats (river / urban areas).

Day 4 - Saturday 17 June:
09:00-11:00  Indoor practicals. Analysis of calls recorded on previous night.
11:00-12:00  Closing remarks.

Important note
Participants should bring their own laptop computer. In case they own a bat detector, they are also warmly invited to bring it with them.

Target Audience
Undergraduates, postgraduates with an interest in mammal biology / ecology / behaviour, free-lance zoologists working in environmental impact assessment. 

The course will only take place if a minimum of 10 participants is reached. No more than 30 trainees will be accepted. If more than 30 applications are submitted, acceptance will be based on the trainee’s CV and the application’s date of submission.

Course language

Training provider
Dr Danilo Russo
Wildlife Research Unit
Laboratorio di Ecologia Applicata, Dipartimento di Agraria
Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
Via Università 100, 80055 Portici (Napoli), Italy

Dr Russo is one of the most experienced European bat researchers in the field of acoustic identification of bats. At least three experienced bat detector users besides Dr Russo will assist the trainees during the course.

Course organiser
Distributed European School of Taxonomy (DEST)

Registration fee
Registration fee: 350 EUR
Registration fee includes 3 nights at the hotel in double room and two lunches, plus all organization costs. It does not cover your own travel costs.

Note: for stay in a single room (upon availabilty): 370 EUR.

Participants are responsible for organizing their own travel to the course location. Info on how to reach the course venue will be provided.

Participants will stay in the Hotel Holidays Barrea

Deadline for registration: 1 March 2017
Click here for the registration form. Registration closed.

Payment details and deadline will be provided upon acceptance to the training.

ForBio Funding

ForBio travel grants are available. These grants enable ForBio members to visit another research institute and to be trained by taxonomic experts.
For more information and application procedure click here.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith