Spatial analysis as a “recipe” for mapping bat use of the area.
Anyone working in monitoring projects knows that field monitoring is expensive stuff and bat monitoring is no different. A 4x4 vehicle, special gear such as bat ultrasound detector that “hear” bat calls in the night, highly specialized human resources working for mean high costs. Therefore, one expects that this step of the project must be important to justify such a large portion of the project’s budget spent in field monitoring. So, what does happen after field monitoring and why is it so important?
Field monitoring provides ecologists base data for its work, much like flour is the base ingredient in a cake recipe.
Now the ecologist must understand what this data means and use it to understand how the natural world works. To do this, he has what it’s called protocols explaining, for example, how to make use of statistical analysis that allow him to achieve a satisfying knowledge of the bats in the area… just like a chef has a recipe explaining how to put all the other ingredients together with the flour to make a cake.
Spatial modelling is one of the analysis that ecologists often use in their work because it allows to make a map of the entire study area. It combines field data observations, which in this case is the number of bats that where “heard” in the field (the “flour”) with habitat and environmental data (the “other ingredients” such as “butter”, “eggs” and “sugar”) by means of complex statistical protocols (the “recipes”) to make a map of bat distribution in the studied area (the “cake”).
Moreover, statistical spatial analysis allows to predict the expected bat activity in an adjacent area that was not covered during field monitoring (with high statistical certainty). This way, we can save our clients some money when it comes to monitoring wide areas.
Now that you know what happen after field monitoring, do you see why mapping bat use of the area is important? At the end, it all comes down to protecting the bats: because the ecologists can understand where are the locations where most bats can be found, he can advise on the area to be avoid by the project (let’s say a wind farm for example) and help save bats.
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