In ARTIS Royal Zoo in Amsterdam, a new radar has been installed to track aerial movement of animals. This information can be used to gain more insight on migration patterns and the influence of changes in the environment.
Last week the BirdScan radar (a Birdscan MR1 manufactured by Swiss-birdradar) of the Institute for Biodiveristy and Ecosystem Dynamics from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) was installed in ARTIS to measure the movement of birds and other flying animals. It can measure the altitude, speed and direction of movement and can even distinguish between birds, bats and large insects. “24 Hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year, this radar scans the aerial environment and thereby enables automatic and systematic monitoring of aerial biodiversity and species abundance” Judy Shamoun-Baranes explains, who is professor Animal Movement Ecology at the UvA.
This radar provides a lot of useful information on how flying animals react to certain weather conditions or changing environmental conditions. It can help identify peak periods of bird and insect movement also outside migration seasons and show the roosting activity of birds. With all this information we get from the radar we can detect certain trends in ecology and biodiversity. “Radars can provide highly useful information to resolve potential aerial conflicts such as interactions between birds and aircrafts or birds and wind parks” says Shamoun-Baranes. “It can also create new opportunities to study the relation between urbanization and the behaviour of aerial wildlife by comparing environmental conditions on the ground to activity measured in the air.”
This fits perfectly within the ARISE project that wants to map all Dutch biodiversity, because it collects a lot of data on bird species and other flying animals. This enables us to detect certain trends and give us a better understanding of how ecosystems function. We can only preserve our biodiversity, if we know what is there in the first place.
Because this radar is often used in applications related to human wildlife interactions, such as aviation safety and wind energy, ARTIS is a great place to demonstrate this technology. “We have chosen to put this radar in ARTIS, because this is one of the demonstration sites set up to communicate about the aims and methods of ARISE with the general public. It provides a fantastic opportunity to interact with the public from diverse backgrounds, countries and age groups and demonstrate how technology can be used for automatic monitoring of biodiversity”, Shamoun-Baranes explains.
Because of its location, right in the middle of Amsterdam, it provides an excellent opportunity for further research and student projects. “At ARTIS we are excited and proud to be one of the ARISE demonstration and monitoring sites. The ARISE project matches well with our vision to be an educational meeting place where we bring nature closer and inspire people to understand, appreciate and treat nature better. This goes for distant wildlife areas as well as for biodiversity in the Netherlands. ARTIS is a big green area in the inner city and because of that also a refuge for local species” says Ruben Janssen, biologist at ARTIS.
“I am really excited to see the first equipment being installed at our ARISE monitoring demonstration sites', says Daniel Kissling, scientific project leader of the UvA part of ARISE. 'With the installation of this radar and other automated sensors such as cameras and sound devices we will have unprecedented opportunities for monitoring biodiversity in the Netherlands', explains Kissling. “We can’t wait to share our enthusiasm for studying the aerial lives of animals with more people!” says Shamoun-Baranes.
Text: Renée Zijlmans
Photos: Judy Shamoun-Baranes