Our workshop location at the American Museum of Natural History's renowned Southwestern Research Station puts us in the heart of one of the most spectacular western wilderness habitats, yet allows us to stay and work in unexpected comfort. The Station provides three hearty prepared meals daily, climate controlled lecture rooms, and fully appointed overnight accommodations. With its location at an elevation of 5,000 feet, the Station is nestled in a lush, riparian canyon shaded by oaks, sycamores, cypress, and cottonwoods, tucked away like a pearl in an otherwise rugged and harsh landscape. Our fieldwork during this course will take us from the desert floor to high-elevation pine forest, all without having to travel more than 12 miles from the station.
The workshop takes advantage of the remarkably accessible habitat diversity and combines indoor classroom lectures and discussions with outdoor field outings, many within walking distance of our classroom. Participants receive an introduction to the use of SonoBat software for conducing acoustic monitoring and inventories as well as a comprehensive understanding of echolocation call characteristics used for species identification in this rich habitat. Guided classroom demonstrations and hands-on experience with equipment in the field will acquaint participants with the full range of methods, techniques, and technologies available for acoustic analysis for almost any western habitat. See below for a complete list of lecture and discussion topics, demonstrations, and evening field activities. Daily goals and objectives for the course are described more fully at the bottom of this page. And an annotated draft agenda is available for download here.
The Western Acoustic Field Techniques Workshop is open to biologists and naturalists from federal, state, or local agencies, college and/or graduate students, and other professionals or enthusiasts with a desire to learn more about full-spectrum echolocation recording and bat call analysis using SonoBat software. No prior experience is necessary. Students are not required to handle bats, so rabies pre-exposure vaccination is not required.
One session: May 20-24 (Monday-Friday). Class size: Limited to 20 students. Location: Southwestern Research Station, Portal AZ.
Joe Szewczak, B.S.E. (1980) Duke University, Ph.D. (1991) Brown University, is an Associate Professor at Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA. His research has investigated the physiological capabilities of bats and other small mammals, from cold hibernative torpor to the intense demands of flight and high altitude, and the physiological ecology of bats. His teaching includes Using SonoBat for Non-invasive Bat Monitoring for the University of California, Biology of the Chiroptera at Humboldt State University, and The Ecology and Conservation of California Bats through San Francisco State University. Joe has also taught acoustic monitoring workshops for BCI and other groups in California, Oregon, Arizona, Washington, South Dakota, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. He is the developer of SonoBat software to analyze and interpret bat echolocation calls and is currently working on automated bird and bat acoustic monitoring and identification methods for the Department of Defense (SERDP) and other agencies
Janet Tyburec, B.A. Biology and B.A. English (1989) Trinity University, a full-time employee at Bat Conservation International, Inc. (BCI), from 1989 thru September 2002, has been involved in the structure and execution of training workshops since the inception of BCI's educational efforts in 1992. She received extensive training in bat ecology and research from BCI founder, Merlin D. Tuttle. She has been a contract employee for BCI since 2002 and has also taught field workshops for Bat Conservation and Management (BCM) since 2007. Over the years, she has personally trained over 2,500 wildlife biologists, land managers, and students of conservation in the course of presenting over 150 field workshops. She is currently a private contractor and provides training and instruction on bat research, inventory, and monitoring for numerous private, federal and state agencies, including the USDA Forest Service, USDI National Park Service, USDI Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Department of Defense. Through these efforts she has designed and conducted custom training workshops for agency directors, staff, wildlife biologists, resource managers, seasonal employees, and volunteers.
John Chenger president of Bat Conservation and Management, Inc. (BCM), has worked with the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) to conduct cave and mine assessments and other bat inventories. He has also worked with BCI since 1997 to facilitate training workshops in Arizona, California, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. He founded BCM in 1999 to address nuisance bat management issues by providing man-made roosts and performing bat-exclusion and bat- proofing services. His company has grown to include seasonal bat roost and habitat surveys, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USF&WS) endangered species compliance inventories, acoustic monitoring studies, and large-scale migratory bat radio-tracking projects. His work has led him to develop and manufacture commercially available survey gear including mist net poles, portable triple-high mist-net sets, harp traps, and bat houses certified by BCI. He has also served as Director of Interpretation at Laurel Caverns for 5 years.
David Riggs, B.S. Computer Science (2007) West Virginia University, has over 12 years professional experience as a Software Engineer, developing software for Lockheed Martin, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Science Applications International Corp. As a Joint Venturer with the Cave Research Foundation, he as surveyed and performed resource inventory for the National Park Service (NPS) in both the longest and deepest caves in the United States. Since 2007, he has served as part-time field technician for Bat Conservation and Management's cave hibernacula and acoustic monitoring projects. As founder of Myotisoft, he currently serves as the North American service center for Pettersson bat detectors, produces software solutions for the management and analysis of bat acoustic data, and provides consulting services for the development of acoustic protocols.
Lectures & Discussions:
Lectures and demonstrations cover a full range of bat echolocation and acoustic monitoring subjects, with a focus on the use of SonoBat software for designing inventory and monitoring programs for western bat species. Topics will include:
Introduction to bat bioacoustics, echolocation, and bat detectors
Hands-on demonstration with available bat detector models
Bat detector use in the field for active and passive monitoring
Bat monitoring program designs and choosing the right bat detector for the job
Introduction to SonoBat software for recording and signal analysis
Call characteristics for bat identification on the basis of echolocation calls
Auto-classification using SonoBat 3.0, data handling, file storage, and interpretation
Instructors will provide guided, hands-on demonstrations during evening and nighttime field practicums. Participants will work in small groups for added opportunity for individual instruction. Topics will include:
Active monitoring using bat detectors, tips for following bats
Key morphological characteristics to help identify bats on the wing
Deployment tips to improve recording quality and confident classifications
Passive setups using bat detectors and digital audio recorders (e.g., Pettersson D240x and Samson Zoom)
Passive deployment of direct recording detectors (e.g., Binary Acoustics Technology AR125 & iFR-IV, Pettersson D500x & D1000x, Wildlife Acoustics SM2BAT+ & EM3)
Active recording methods and hands-on opportunities to collect voucher recordings
Implementing mobile acoustic transects
Addressing power, security, and weatherproofing for long-term, passive deployments
Western Bat Acoustics
Field Techniques Workshop
Location and Directions: The American Museum of Natural History's Southwestern Research Station is located about 5-miles from the tiny town of Portal in southeastern Arizona, near the New Mexico border. The nearest major city is Tucson (airport code TUS), which is about 3 hours by vehicle. Participants might also find better flights and connections by flying into Phoenix (PHX) another 1-1/2 hours north of Tucson. There is no cellphone service at the Station or within the canyon at the majority of our field sites. More information about travel to the Station, is available at: http://research.amnh.org/swrs/about-swrs/directionsclimate
Dates and times: May 20 (Monday) thru May 24 (Friday). Check-in begins at noon on Monday May 20, outside the Southwestern Research Station Nature Center. The first classroom session begins promptly at 1pm. Formal presentations will conclude by noon on Friday May 24. NOTE: Arizona does not participate in daylight savings time and remains on Mountain Standard Time year round, please plan your travel to arrive in the area accordingly.
Southwestern Research Station Lodging:
Due to the remoteness of our location and paucity of nearby alternate lodging, overnight lodging is included with this workshop for the nights of 20-23 May. Lodging is dormitory style, with up to 3 people per room. A pro-rated registration fee for participants wishing to attempt to find off-site lodging is not available. While there is no cell service at SWRS, there is station-wide WiFi. that guests may use internet phone services (Skype, etc.)
General Equipment: Participants need to bring appropriate field gear, including hiking boots, a headlamp with batteries, a personal pack, sunscreen, and a water bottle. Participants will not handle bats at this workshop, so participants do not need rabies pre-exposure vaccination. Field locations can be surprisingly cool at night, please bring a jacket and dress appropriately for evening activities. We will be visiting natural cave entrances, but not physically entering them, therefore WNS decontamination is not required.
Acoustic Equipment: Students should bring personal bat recording gear, laptops and connecting cables. We will have a number of full-spectrum bat detectors available including a number of Pettersson D240x and D500x detectors for participants to borrow. We will also have several Wildlife Acoustics SM2BAT+ and EM3 units available. There will be smaller numbers of Pettersson D1000x, Binary Acoustic Technology AR125 and iFR-IV models, and an Elekon Batlogger to demo. A generous, fully functional trial version of SonoBat 3 will be available to install on student laptops prior to the workshop. It is important to take advantage of this opportunity PRIOR to arrival to participate fully in the guided software demonstrations and post-processing of field recordings.
Participants who have already invested in a detector brand or model should bring it to the class. Being familiar with the basic operation of the detector and how to connect it to a laptop and/or off-load recordings to a laptop prior to the workshop is helpful. Please bring any appropriate digital media storage devices (2GB or larger is suggested) to collect recordings and/or share data. One field trip will include a mobile (driving or walking) transect; students may use their own equipment during this exercise, and should be sure to consider power and portability issues. AnaBat users interested in the full spectrum detectors and SonoBat workflow are welcome. However, remember that SonoBat is not compatible with AnaBat recordings. AnaBat software and workflow necessitates its own dedicated workshop to cover comprehensively and therefore will not be formally covered at this workshop due to time constraints.
Meals: All meals from Dinner on Monday May 20th to Breakfast on Friday May 24th are included with the registration fee. Please indicate with your registration if you require vegetarian meals. There is a small convenience store in Portal where food, beverages and other essentials can be purchased during limited hours. Other grocery stores and chain restaurants are 60-80 miles away in Willcox, San Simon, or Douglas AZ or in Lordsburg NM. The nearest gas stations are in San Simon or Lordsburg. Travelers should plan their food and fuel needs accordingly.
The third day has three goals:
1. Explaining the importance of call libraries, understanding species-specific echolocation call repertoires, and the need for experience with active monitoring, call collections from known species, and time in the field with the bats and the detectors BEFORE trying to manually (or automatically) identify unknown bat calls to species.
2. Assisting participants with the different workflows for off-loading collected calls collected with different passive recording methods, before using SonoBat 2.9 to organize, group and analyze calls.
3. Introducing students to SonoBat 3.0, basic operations, and what the output means for rendering species ID decisions (i.e., dispelling the quickly emerging myth and explaining carefully that calls identified with a DP of 0.95 DOES NOT mean that there's a 95% chance that the recording was from the species indicated).
The fourth day has three main goals:
1. Continued guided hands-on experience with the software to verify species ID classifications, managing the SonoBatch data output, and vetting results of the auto-classifier.
2. Protocols for reporting on inventory and monitoring programs using acoustics, determining species occupancy, and understanding ambiguous results.
3. Steps to convert full-spectrum recordings to Zero-cross format and workflow for analysis in EchoClass and BCID software programs.
The fifth day has two main goals:
1. The current and future applications of acoustic monitoring for bat surveys, new technologies on the horizon, and responsible use of automated classifiers.
2. Emphasizing responsible use of auto-classification tools for acoustic surveys and answering any lingering questions students have with the detectors, recorders, software, and/or analysis.