Citizens to study mountain animals

Citizens to study mountain animals

Does the chamois adapt its daily routines to the level of snow cover? Do deer prefer to rest in the middle of the forest or among the wild plants? And the roe deer system: is it affected by the presence of other species in its territory? While the mountains are teeming with ungulates, scientists know very little about their interaction with their various environments.

Bringing together French, Swiss and Italian researchers in Chamonix (Haute-Savoie), the Center for Research on Elevated Ecosystems (CREA Mont-Blanc) has collected hundreds of thousands of images of three herbivores and other small mammals, in the heart of conifers. Forests, swamps, alpine meadows. Captured for six months by about forty “camera traps”, placed between 1,700 and 2,700 meters above sea level, allowing observation of mountain fauna “265 days a year, day and night, in multiple places, all without disturbing her!”Hilary Girardi, Head of Development at CREA rejoices.

Huge mass of data is automatically sorted

This project, which was launched just over three years ago, generates a massive mass of data before which researchers have no choice, and very few: after performing an initial automatic sort using algorithms developed by their partner Devoteam Revolve, they send the images to the observing eye For ordinary citizens (more than 5,500 last year) trying to distinguish the presence, species, number or behavior of animals.

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This work, can be accessed on the Internet platform “Wild Mont Blanc”is a kind of mini-game in the service of science but also in the service of technology “Because it allows computers to absorb identification feedback and improve the accuracy of their programs”Magali-Regnault, of the Devotem Foundation, explains. This is the famous “machine learning”.

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Target? A better understanding of the daily lives of animals and an in-depth analysis of the effects of global warming in order to design and promote an increasingly respectful approach to mountains, Especially with decision makers., says Hilary Girardi. If we have to wait a few more years before we can chart trends and develop concrete methods, the progress of the experiment is documented season by season on the site. Atlas Mont Blanc.

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