AVAILABLE SOFTWARE AND APPLICATIONS
The most direct way to measure energy expenditure in wild animals is to measure heart rate continuously. Historically, this has been challenging because the technology to capture heart rate was still under development.
To attain data, hours were spent only to realize small amounts of information. With NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and Severn Electronics, electrical engineer, Paul Kelley, I have co-developed advanced technologies and methods to mount heart rate transmitters, as well as transmit, receive, record, and analyze heart rate data in small migratory birds. From this collaboration, Paul Kelley has developed the software Vireo, which calculates heart rate from remote recordings using heart rate telemetry.
From up to 20-hour portions of continuous field recordings of heart rate using MP3 technology and capability, Vireo allows us to extract the bird’s heart rate using a series of filters to remove spurious data and autocorrelation algorithms that provides heart rate with one-second time stamps. This program has been tested on heart rate telemetry data for 13 Black-capped Vireos monitored in 2008 where the recovery rate for heart rate data was approximately 60% – a 20% increase from our previous data analyses methods.
Having filtered ambient noise manually from free-living White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus) heart rate telemetry recordings for the two years previous, I was able to advise Paul with the filter amounts in the program and help him understand the biology of the process.
Researchers have at times avoided this critical work because of the difficulty of obtaining data. We hope this new technology will open up this field of study and that the technology will be adapted for other animals.
The application is a mobile data collection system developed by myself and Dr. Peter Marra, at the Migratory Bird Center/Conservation Biology Institute together with an African IT company, MindAfrica.
The application enables users to create custom data forms online (at www.mindafrica.info with their mobile number as the username and a personal password) that are later downloaded to appropriate mobile phones for animal morbidity and mortality data collection. SI-AMMP includes GPS and photo capture options that are typically available on more expensive phones but the core of the application performs well with inexpensive phones. The advantage of this application is that data is sent real time via mobile networks so it acts as a small field computer that allows you to send data as you collect it.
NEW FEATURE: we have recently and successfully added an SMS message feature that alerts key personnel (as chosen by the project leader) that a new data point has been entered with an SMS text that is sent directly to these pre-determined phone numbers.