Like many other critters, bats can be identified by the sounds they make. Now a group of researchers has put together a website where you can upload a bat's echolocation noises, and it'll tell you what sort of bat it is.
Unfortunately, it's not quite as simple as throwing up an MP3 and letting the numbers crunch. As described in the Journal of Applied Ecology, there are some caveats. First, it's designed for European bats only; and second, it requires some pretty specific software.
The website is dubbed iBatsID, and you have to upload the sound information as a text file output by the program SonoBat. From this information, the iBatsID takes the twelve most useful characteristics, and from this can identify 34 different species.
Lead author Charlotte Walters say in a release:
iBatsID can identify 83-98% of calls from pipistrelle species correctly, but some species such as those in the Myotis genus are really hard to tell apart and even with iBatsID we can still only identify 49-81% of Myotis calls correctly.
With this tool, it's potentially much easier for researchers and conservationists to identify which bats have been nearby. To correctly spot the species that have been hanging around, they just need the right soundfile.
How cool is it that we can use computers to identify species by sound? Here's hoping it'll spread to other continents and animals as well.