Searching for snow leopards

Post provided by Ian Durbach and Koustubh Sharma

Snow leopard captured via camera trap in Mongolia. Picture credit: Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation/Snow Leopard Trust/Panthera (OR SLCF/SLT/PF).

Snow leopards are notoriously elusive creatures and monitoring their population status within the remote, inhospitable habitats they call home, can be challenging.  In this post, co-authors Ian Durbach and Koustubh Sharma discuss the applications of their Methods in Ecology and Evolution article, ‘Fast, flexible alternatives to regular grid designs for spatial capture–recapture’, for monitoring snow leopard populations.

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The journey from designing to employing an automated radio telemetry system to track monarch butterflies

Post provided by Kelsey E. Fisher

Kelsey Fisher describes the motivations and challenges in the development of a novel automated radio telemetry method to track the movement of butterflies at the landscape scale published in their new Methods article ‘Locating large insects using automated VHF radio telemetry with a multi‐antennae array’.

LB-2X transmitter attached to a monarch butterfly.

Understanding animal movement across varying spatial and temporal scales is an active area of fundamental ecological research, with practical applications in the fields of conservation biology and natural resource management. Advancements in tracking technologies, such as GPS and satellite systems, allow researchers to obtain more location information for a variety of species than ever before. It’s an exciting time for movement ecologists! However, entomologists studying insect movement are still limited because of the large size of tracking devices relative to the small size of insects.

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Detecting Diatoms through Kick-net DNA Metabarcoding

Post provided by Dr. Chloe Robinson

Diatoms may be the only organisms to live in houses made of glass, but some species of diatom are far from fragile. Certain groups of diatoms are highly tolerant of poorer water quality and therefore their presence can be diagnostic for freshwater health estimates. A recent study, featuring MEE Associate Editor, Chloe Robinson, investigated whether communities of freshwater diatoms can be collected via kick-net methodology, which is an approach currently used for collecting benthic macroinvertebrates. In this post, Chloe highlights how applying previously optimised freshwater methods can result in a more holistic understanding of freshwater health.

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10th Anniversary Volume 9: Acoustic Monitoring Editor’s Choice

To celebrate our 10th Anniversary, we are highlighting a key article from each of our volumes. For Volume 9 we selected Estimating effective detection area of static passive acoustic data loggers from playback experiments with cetacean vocalisations’ by Nuuttila et al. (2018). 

In this post, three of our Associate Editors with expertise in acoustic monitoring, Sarab Sethi, Camille Desjonquères and Lian Pin Koh, select their favourite MEE papers in this field.

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DNA from Bite Marks: An Amplicon Sequencing Protocol for Attacker Identification

Post provided by Daniela C. Rößler 

© Daniela C. Rößler

Understanding interactions between predators and prey is of interest to a variety of research fields. These interactions not only hold valuable information about ecological dynamics and food webs but are also crucial in understanding the evolution of predatory and anti-predator traits such as vision, visual signals and behavior. Thus, the “who attacks what and why” is key to approach broad evolutionary and ecological questions.

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Tracking the fate of fish

Post provided by David Villegas Ríos

David Ríos tells us about investigating the movement of aquatic animals using telemetry technology and the new Methods article ‘Inferring individual fate from aquatic acoustic telemetry data’.

Photo by Carla Freitas

Aquatic animal telemetry has revolutionized our understanding of the behaviour of aquatic animals. One of the important advantages of telemetry methods, including acoustic telemetry, is that they provide information at the individual level. This is very relevant because it enables investigating the natural variability in behaviour within populations (like here or here), but also because one can investigate what happens to each individual animal and relate it to its natural behaviour. Knowing “what happens to each individual” is normally referred to as “fate” and it can take many forms: some fish may end-up eaten by predators, other may be fished, some of them may disperse, etc. Knowing the fate of each individual fish is crucial as it links ecological processes at the individual level to evolutionary outcomes at the population level.

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10th Anniversary Volume 6: Remote Sensing Editor’s Choice

To celebrate our 10th Anniversary, we are highlighting a key article from each of our volumes. For Volume 6, we selected Nondestructive estimates of above‐ground biomass using terrestrial laser scanning by Calders et al. (2014).

In this post, two of our Associate Editors with expertise in remote sensing, Sarah Goslee and Hooman Latifi, share their favourite MEE papers in the fields of remote sensing and biomass estimation.

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Squeezing the Lemon: Getting the Most from a Simple Acoustic Recogniser

Post provided by Nick Leseberg

Night parrot (Photo credit: Nick Leseberg).

Presenting the new MEE articleUsing intrinsic and contextual information associated with automated signal detections to improve call recognizer performance: A case study using the cryptic and critically endangered Night Parrot Pezoporus occidentalis, Nick Leseberg shares the methods behind the hunt for the elusive night parrot.

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10th Anniversary Volume 6: Nondestructive estimates of above‐ground biomass using terrestrial laser scanning

Post provided by Kim Calders, Glenn Newnham, Andrew Burt, Pasi Raumonen, Martin Herold, Darius Culvenor, Valerio Avitabile, Mathias Disney, and John Armston

To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the launch of Methods in Ecology and Evolution, we are highlighting an article from each volume to feature in the Methods.blog. For Volume 6, we have selected ‘Nondestructive estimates of above-ground biomass using terrestrial laser scanning by Calders et al. (2014).

In this post, the authors discuss the background and key concepts of the article, and changes in the field that have happened since the paper was published.

Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) calculates 3D locations by measuring the speed of light between a transmitted laser pulse and its return. Firing hundreds of thousands of pulses per second, these instruments can represent the surroundings in detailed 3D, displaying them as virtual environments made up of high density points. The main applications of commercial instruments in the early 2000s were engineering or mining, but their application in natural forested environments was in its infancy. Forest ecosystems are structurally complex; clear reference points used to register multiple scans are rare and trees move due to wind creating artefacts in the data.

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Navigating the data-rich world of aquatic acoustic telemetry

Post provided by Kim Whoriskey

Early Career Researcher Kim Whoriskey takes us behind the Methods paper ‘Current and emerging statistical techniques for aquatic telemetry data: A guide to analysing spatially discrete animal detections’ which led to her being shortlisted for our Robert May Prize in 2019.

Understanding how aquatic animals move is becoming increasingly important for protecting them. Knowing where they migrate, how long they stay, and what they do when they travel through changing marine environments provides us with key information on movement corridors, habitat hotspots, and changing population distributions. This information can then be used to help manage and conserve many different aquatic species, from developing guidelines for recreational fishing practices to defining marine spatial planning measures.

sharks

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