Caribou Cam

It’s not easy studying the behavior of woodland caribou. If it’s not deep snow and freezing temperatures, then it’s bugs. Lots of bugs. However, a team of Canadian researchers attached high resolution cameras to five caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) and recorded video and took GPS readings for 20 weeks.

Not the woodland caribou in the study. Other woodland caribou.

According to their paper in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, the resolution on the video was good enough for the scientists to identify the plant species that the caribou ate. Six percent of the footage was unusable because of fogging or snow, but for the most part the project removed some of the mystery of woodland caribou behavior.

“Critter Cams” have been used by the National Geographic Society, in part, if not mostly, to create entertaining videos for the general public, but in this case, the caribou cam has contributed information on an otherwise difficult to study animal.

Read the Wildlife Society Bulletin paper here. (Requires subscription or fee.)

Photo: Woodland caribou, photo by Erwin and Peggy Bauer, courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service

Girl bats hang out together for a long time

ARKive photo - Bechstein's bat roosting
German and Swiss researchers have found that the social dynamics of bats are only revealed after analyzing large data sets. The researchers examined 20,500 individual observations collected over five years and found that female Bechstein’s bats have social networks as complex and long-lived as those in dolphins, elephants and some primate species.

Bechstein’s bats are a Myotis species (Myotis bechsteinii). They roost in trees and only rarely hibernate in caves. It is an uncommon bat with a patchy distribution throughout Europe, including the United Kingdom.

There’s a brief write-up in the AAAS ScienceShots. And here’s the paper, in the Proceedings of the Royal Academy B.

While the findings lean toward the academic, they offer insight for the study of White Nose Syndrome, and into just what you might discover after collecting 20,500 observations of an animal’s behavior.