The Mammal Society is partnering with the University of Bristol, nonprofit tech startup Rainforest Connection, and Huawei Technologies for a ground-breaking project aiming to protect red squirrels through collecting bio-acoustic data.
What is the project?
- Custom-built Guardian and AudioMoth devices, powered by Huawei’s world-leading AI technologies, will be used to collect acoustic data from the environment in forests inhabited by only red squirrels, by only grey squirrels, and by both species.
- The data will be transferred to researchers at the University of Bristol, who will use it to build up a picture of the ecosystem to help learn about the behaviours of squirrels.
Why red squirrels?
- Red squirrels are a beloved and iconic native species – but their numbers have undergone sharp declines in Great Britain over the past 60 years, and they have disappeared from 60% of their range in the last 13 years alone. They are endangered in England and Wales and near threatened in Scotland. According to our Red List, there may only be 29,500 red squirrels left in Great Britain.
- The major factors behind their decline are competition and disease from the invasive grey squirrel. Therefore, the only certain way to sustain a population of red squirrels is through the exclusion of grey squirrels.
- This can be done by creating habitats favourable only for red squirrels, and through careful conservation and reintroduction efforts – but in order to do this successfully, a greater understanding of red and grey squirrels is needed. This is where this project comes in!
Why is this project important?
- The project will give us a new insight into squirrel activity, which would not be possible without using this technology.
- The results of this project will help us identify where conservation effort will be most effective and make the biggest difference to red squirrel populations.
How can I learn more?
- Read about red squirrels here
- University of Bristol
- Rainforest Connection
- Have a question? Send us an email!
Photos © blacksnapper, Getty Images.