A good tern deserves another: Low-power, remote monitoring of island birds cuts bills

January 24, 2014

The use of portable, wireless cameras and monitoring equipment for recording and transmitting footage of wildlife is perhaps familiar to anyone who watches nature programs on TV. However, common to all such equipment is the problem of limited battery life, which becomes particularly troublesome when using such equipment in remote and hazardous locations. A new report in the International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering, reveals details of an energy-efficient system for monitoring wild birds that reduces power consumption without significantly compromising image quality.

Hsiao-Wei Yuan of the National Taiwan University in Taipei and colleagues were aware that scientific monitoring of the critically endangered Chinese Crested Tern (Thalasseus bernsteini) a migratory bird that nests on Taiwan's Matsu Islands is important for conservation. As with many such ecosystems, observations are often unsystematic and rely on manual observation rather than continuous feedback.

The team has now developed a wireless, real-time visual for monitoring these birds, TernCam. The system will allow scientists to gain a better picture of the tern's behavior through instantaneous capture of information. Crucially, the team has developed appropriate software for data transmission that retains image integrity but reduces the total number of data packets transmitted by the system and so considerably reduces battery consumption.

"The traditional techniques used to monitor wildlife are labor intensive and costly," Yuan says. "The use of cameras allows large data collection and increases the size of a sampled area without human presence, often giving scientists a glimpse into the secret lives of wildlife and its breeding, feeding and migratory habits." Additionally, monitoring cameras can also be used in anti-poaching efforts.

The team says their system overcomes many of the problems associated with wireless monitoring previously. The TernCam system has demonstrated that it can remain functional in severe weather conditions, wet, hot and salty environments and transmit adequate signals via the that is ubiquitous across Taiwan using the general packet radio service (GPRS) to provide real-time monitoring. The latter has generally not been possible with conventional equipment used in other locations before. The system has four 12 volt batteries to provide power and these are kept charged by two .

It is the image collection and processing for transmission that makes the system viable for such remote monitoring. Image compression and scheduling of transmission through the GPRS system allows data to be sent at very low energy cost to the scientists' computer server on the mainland 250 km away. Testing the system on the one of the islands through a breeding season has demonstrated how well it works and points the way to the wider use of the same system in other species elsewhere in a similar manner.

Explore further: Wireless low-power active-electrode EEG headset presented

More information: "TernCam: an automated energy-efficient visual surveillance system" in Int. J. Computational Science and Engineering, 2014, 9, 44-54

Related Stories

Wireless low-power active-electrode EEG headset presented

October 5, 2012

Imec, Holst Centre and Panasonic have developed a new prototype of a wireless EEG (electroencephalogram) headset. The system combines ease-of-use with ultra-low power electronics. Continuous impedance monitoring and the use ...

Bluetooth Smart radio with record battery lifetime

December 3, 2013

Imec, Holst Centre and Wicentric introduce today their integrated ultra-low power Bluetooth Smart radio solution for a range of smart applications. With a power consumption up to five times lower than state-of-the-art radios ...

New monitoring technique reveals endangered animals

January 22, 2014

Now biologists can get much more accurate information about endangered bats, birds and insects. A new recording system, developed at the University of Southern Denmark, has revealed many previously unknown and highly valuable ...

Near error-free wireless detection made possible

January 23, 2014

(Phys.org) —A new long-range wireless tag detection system, with potential applications in health care, environmental protection and goods tracking, can pinpoint items with near 100 per cent accuracy over a much wider range ...

Recommended for you

Interactive tool lifts veil on the cost of nuclear energy

August 24, 2015

Despite the ever-changing landscape of energy economics, subject to the influence of new technologies and geopolitics, a new tool promises to root discussions about the cost of nuclear energy in hard evidence rather than ...

Smart home heating and cooling

August 28, 2015

Smart temperature-control devices—such as thermostats that learn and adjust to pre-programmed temperatures—are poised to increase comfort and save energy in homes.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.