Mechatronics meets biology: experiences and first results with a multipurpose small mammal monitoring unit used in red squirrel habitats
 
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1
Metterstrasse 16, D-75447 Sternenfels, and Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University Karlsruhe, Mechatronics Department, Erzbergerstrasse 121, D-76133 Karlsruhe
2
Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University Karlsruhe, Mechatronics Department, Erzbergerstrasse 121, D-76133 Karlsruhe
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Lurzengasse 3, D-97236 Randersacker
Publish date: 2015-12-31
 
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2015;26(2):169–172
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ABSTRACT

Monitoring is a fundamental aspect of species conservation and research. Technological advances, especially with respect to camera trap technologies, have allowed glimpses into unknown aspects of species behaviour and have the potential to greatly assist species distribution monitoring. Here we present the findings of a pilot study combining existing biological monitoring techniques with mechatronics to advance monitoring technologies and develop a multi-purpose, species specific, automated monitoring system. We developed a Small Mammal Monitoring Unit (SMMU) that integrates automated video, and sound recording, carries out body weight measurements and takes hairs samples with a bait station in a portable perspex box. The unit has the potential for use with a range of small mammal species, but has been field-tested here on red squirrels, Sciurus vulgaris, in Germany, Scotland and Switzerland. We successfully collected hair-samples, body mass data as well as video and sound recordings. Preliminary data analyses also revealed behavioural information. Heavier individuals first gained access to the feeder in the morning and have longer feeding bouts. Our prototype demonstrated that the collaboration between mechatronic and biology offers novel, integrated monitoring techniques for a range of research application. The development of units for other mammal species is planned. Future developments will explore the possibilities for wireless data transmission, built-in collection of weather data and collection of images from inside the unit for the recognition of individuals.

eISSN:1825-5272
ISSN:0394-1914