Bat Detective is an online citizen science project which allows visitors to the website to take part in wildlife conservation by listening out for bat calls in recordings collected all over the world.
By sorting the sounds in the recordings into insect and bat calls, bat detectives will help biologists learn how to reliably distinguish bat 'tweets' to develop new automatic identification tools.
Bats use lots of different types of sounds, from singing to each other to find a mate, to using the echoes from their tweets to find their way around. Usually bat sounds are inaudible to humans as they are too high for us to hear, but special 'time expansion' ultrasonic detectors convert these sounds to a lower frequency, and visitors to the Bat Detective website can listen to these unique recordings and help distinguish different sounds.
One out of every five species of bats is threatened with extinction and better automatic identification tools are desperately needed to quickly process vast amounts of sound data collected by volunteers from the bat monitoring programme iBats who survey bat populations each year.
Bats are found all over the world from local parks to pristine rainforests and monitoring their population trends provides an important indicator of healthy ecosystems. Developing new tools that allow biologists to interpret population trends from sound will allow bats' tweets to act as a way to track environmental change.
Bat Detective was developed at University College London, Bat Conservation Trust, Bat Life Europe with the Citizen Science Alliance.