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Bird Monitoring Training Workshops for Implementation of Autonomous Aerial Acoustic Recording Systems (AAARS)


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Do you have bird monitoring needs within inaccessible areas, or over large expanses of habitat?  Technology using acoustics affixed to weather balloons is now available to use for such purposes.

 

 

The subject no-cost training workshops below will be held this year near Fort Riley, KS, Jefferson Proving Ground, IN, and Fort Bragg, NC.

3-5 June 2014
Sandhills Game Land, NC

17-19 June 2014
Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, Seymour, IN

30 June-2 July 2014
Konza Prairie Natural Area, Manhattan, KS

 

These workshops are funded by the DoD Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (see below for more detail on ESTCP).  The University of Tennessee and U.S. Army Engineer R&D Center monitoring team has completed three years (2011-2013) of successful testing and implementation of AAARS involving over 400 flights at these three military installations. In 2014, our primary project objective is to train DoD and other natural resources personnel in the operation of this novel technology. Experienced AAARS personnel from the University of Tennessee will train up to 15 individuals comprised of DoD natural resources staff or non-DoD professionals. The training will involve flying the AAARS at altitudes between 100 and 300 m for approximately 1-5 km across an expanse of bird habitat. We intend to launch and recover the AAARS on established roads but we may be required to traverse on foot off-road to recover payloads that do not land directly on a road. In addition to field-based implementation of the technology, we will also provide field-based training on use of ground-based autonomous recording systems and also classroom-based training on analysis of acoustic data and strategies for using these data for monitoring priority bird populations.

 

There is no fee for attending, but attendance is limited.  Please see below for information on how to register for this training.

Please pass along to other interested personnel, or your environmental partners potentially interested in this training.  Thanks!

 

Richard A. Fischer, Ph.D.
Research Wildlife Biologist
U.S. Army Engineer R&D Center, Environmental Lab
3909 Halls Ferry Rd.
Vicksburg, MS  39180
502-315-6707 (o)
502-641-7824 (cell)

 

 

Bird Monitoring Training Workshops for Implementation of Autonomous Aerial Acoustic Recording Systems (AAARS)

 

Background: The need for improvements in avian wildlife monitoring efficiency, accuracy, and geographic extent has led to development of new technologies such as autonomous recording devices. We have developed a novel autonomous aerial acoustic recording system (AAARS) that addresses these issues, as well as the specific problem of monitoring of inaccessible areas. Military installations, which host a disproportionately high number of threatened, endangered, and at-risk species (TER-S) compared to other federal lands, pose this problem in the form of sizeable impact areas that are too hazardous to traverse on the ground. The AAARS can collect avian vocalization data in inaccessible areas to estimate density and population size of target bird species. This information, when combined with ground-based monitoring outside of inaccessible areas, can provide much more scientifically defensible data for compliance with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and the DoD “Migratory Bird Rule.” The objective of this project is to demonstrate and validate the use of AAARS for monitoring avian TER-S populations in inaccessible areas and then conduct training workshops where AAARS technology may be transferred to Department of Defense (DoD) and other interested natural resources personnel.

Technology Description: The AAARS uses a six foot helium-filled weather balloon to transport an instrumentation payload over inaccessible areas while recording avian vocalizations. Audio recordings are made with a digital recorder and an active directional microphone. A custom servo-controlled valve is used to vent helium as needed to control the altitude of the system during flight. The valve is also used to terminate the flight by rapidly deflating the balloon on command. A GPS module generates position and altitude data, which are relayed to a PC laptop-based ground station via RF modems. The ground station logs real-time flight telemetry and sends flight control commands to the payload. GPS telemetry data are used to track the balloon during flight, control balloon altitude, and locate/recover the system once it lands. Upon recovery, audio data recorded during the flight are transferred from the AAARS digital recorder to a PC for analysis.

 

Proposed Training: We have completed three years (2011-2013) of successful testing and implementation of AAARS involving over 400 flights at three military installations (Fort Riley, KS, Jefferson Proving Ground, IN, and Fort Bragg, NC). In 2014, our primary project objective is to train Department of Defense (DoD) and other natural resources staff in the operation of this novel technology. We will conduct three training workshops near each of the aforementioned installations in habitats that resemble the installations where we have worked. The proposed trainings will be between June and July, 2014, and will each last three days. For each training workshop, experienced AAARS personnel from the University of Tennessee will train up to 15 individuals comprised of DoD natural resources staff or related professionals. The training will involve flying the AAARS at altitudes between 100 and 300 m for approximately 1-5 km across an expanse of bird habitat. We intend to launch and recover the AAARS on established roads but we may be required to traverse on foot off-road to recover payloads that do not land directly on a road. In addition to field-based implementation of the technology, we will also provide field-based training on use of ground-based autonomous recording systems and also classroom-based training on analysis of acoustic data and strategies for using these data for monitoring priority bird populations.

 

 

Training Workshop Location and Dates:

Sandhills Game Land, near Fort Bragg, NC (3-5 June 2014)
Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge near Big Oaks NWR (Jefferson Proving Ground), IN (17-19 June 2014)
Konza Prairie near Ft. Riley, KS (30 June-2 July 2014)

How to Register: To secure a training spot, interested persons should contact Ms. Stephanie Prevost (sprevost@utk.edu) ASAP and indicate preferred workshop location.

 

 

Cost: No cost to attend but participants are responsible for their own food and lodging.

*****
ESTCP is DoD’s environmental technology demonstration and validation program. The Program was established in 1995 to promote the transfer of innovative technologies that have successfully established proof of concept to field or production use. ESTCP demonstrations collect cost and performance data to overcome the barriers to employ an innovative technology because of concerns regarding technical or programmatic risk, the so-called “Valley of Death.”

The Program’s goal is to identify and demonstrate the most promising innovative and cost-effective technologies and methods that address DoD’s high-priority environmental requirements. Projects conduct formal demonstrations at DoD facilities and sites in operational settings to document and validate improved performance and cost savings. To ensure the demonstrated technologies have a real impact, ESTCP collaborates with end-users and regulators throughout the development and execution of each demonstration. Transition challenges are overcome with rigorous and well-documented demonstrations that provide the information needed by all stakeholders for acceptance of the technology.

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