Written by: Steph Dreessen

Organization is any researcher’s best friend, especially ours this summer. With 8 different cave locations, the intensive data collection, and the cases full of equipment, organization will make the data analysis better for us. My data analysis involves the audio and video aspects of our data. I’ll be using ImageJ to calculate population emergence semi-automatically, and validate that data with DotCount to make sure all bats are accounted for during emergence. Both ImageJ and DotCount are computer software programs that help us calculate the number of bats.

For audio analysis, I download the recordings onto my computer and open them with Audacity. Audacity is an audio analysis software program. I use this software to find the peak frequencies of the data at certain time intervals, and record them in an excel spreadsheet. This method is to compare the peak frequencies to varying emergence densities. The ultimate goal of this analysis is to see if the emergence of the bats affects their echolocation. If it does affect it, maybe we’ll be able to determine how and by how much the density affects echolocation.

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To analyze the data, Cassi and I both will extract the raw data from the GoPros to our computers, and pull out sample video frames using MATLAB. From there, we take a percentage of our sample and count the number of bats in DotCount. We use an online randomizer to extract a random sample of the raw data. Then, we use ImageJ to calculate the noise tolerance of our sample, along with figuring out a brightness/contrast threshold that makes the software calculate the population most accurately. We use an Excel spreadsheet to keep ourselves organized (and sane) with all our calculations.  After these steps of analysis, we go into DotCount and count all the bats using that software to validate the ImageJ analysis. Then we calculate the difference between the two software programs, and finally calculate the percent difference to validate our results further.

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The past few weeks, Cassi and I have been doing this process at home before we meet every week at Saint Mary’s College to check our results with one another.  It never fails that every Sunday we’ll text each other and say something along the lines of  “So…how is research going?” The usual reply that either of us sends contains “Weeeell, I got most of it done…and I plan on doing the rest in about an hour.” The usual procrastination process of ours after looking at a computer for a portion of our weekend as we realize it’s coming rapidly to an end.

We are only 8 days away from starting our research trip, so all the details are being ironed out, our data analysis process is being reviewed and refined, and we (we being Dr. Kloepper, and I’m pretty confident that she is in heaven because she LOVES to organize things) are organizing all our equipment in their proper cases.

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