Monitoring and surveys

Monitoring is a cornerstone of our business. BTO Consulting has a unique combination of professional scientists and volunteers, and undertakes modern statistically robust surveys with web-based online data entry and retrieval. We are able to monitor changes in bird numbers, in distribution, and in productivity and survival. In partnership with other organisations our expertise is being applied additionally to mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects.
We offer a comprehensive survey design and execution service to meet the needs of a range of commercial and conservation organisations. Our broad knowledge and experience in survey strategy, techniques and logistics enables us to offer a quality and respected survey service. James Pearce-Higgins, Director of Science 

Setting Conservation Priorities

Knowing which species are most in need of conservation action is critical to setting priorities. Our monitoring programmes provide the evidence through a system of ‘alerts’, triggered by significant declines that highlight vulnerable populations and species. This information is used by those responsible for managing sites (e.g. Special Protection Areas) or species (such as those in the UK’s Biodiversity Action Plan).

Case Study

Acoustic monitoring for bats

Our ability to undertake robust and reliable acoustic monitoring surveys for bats and other animals has been revolutionised in recent years by the development of high quality full-spectrum acoustic detectors. As with all ‘big data’, it takes a lot of time to process and interpret the often large amounts of audio data these devices can collect, which makes timely reporting back to the client difficult. This can result in situations where rare species may only be discovered after the end of the field season and follow-up is not possible. Dealing efficiently with large volumes of data has required the development of new analytical tools and ways of working.

BTO Consulting has developed a new classifier that automates the analysis of recordings, interprets these results and provides a robust species-level estimate of error rate. This provides an objective framework for the analysis recordings that minimises error and maximises the speed of processing. The classifier has been used successfully for both targeted surveys for rare species, as well as mass-participation surveys.

Volunteers. David Tipling
BTO can mobilise 50,000 skilled volunteers to participate in surveys. David Tipling 

Biodiversity Indicators

Birds can be valuable indicators of change in other wildlife and in the state of the countryside, due to their position in the food chain, their widespread occurrence and their high profile in the public eye. This has led to the development of a suite of bird indicators used to measure progress towards biodiversity targets and sustainable management of farmland, waterways and forests. We have helped develop similar indicators across Europe, and regionally within the UK, aimed at measuring the effects of a range of potential threats from climate change to land use.

Survey Design

Survey design is one of the most overlooked aspects in environmental consultancy. We provide expertise in survey design, mobilising volunteers and capturing, analysing and interpreting data to enable organisations monitoring wildlife to improve knowledge. With bat surveys, for example, our team can easily set up a bespoke online survey based on the UTM or national grid and users can register and book out, for example, one kilometre squares for surveys. This eliminates time spent managing survey sites, surveyors or volunteers. For larger scale surveys we can also help with an online tool where volunteers can book out detectors from bat detector hosting centres such as nature reserves and libraries.

Our ability to coordinate thousands of motivated and skilled volunteers, together with professional expertise, enable us to track many aspects of birds’ lives. We provide facts, figures and indicators that decision-makers use to inform their projects. Dawn Balmer, BTO Head of Surveys 

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