Giving a hoot about owls
Unity College, MIT partner in monitoring project
By Sharon Kiley Mack | BDN Staff | Monday April 6, 2009
...The citizen-science project ? a marriage of engineering and biology ? is in its seventh year and provides vital data such as owl numbers, owl health and population trends to the Maine Audubon Society and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.The story also quotes my sometimes colleague David Potter at Unity College (I work there part-time occasionally). I should probably say the Maine Owl Monitoring Program has no relationship with this blog.
MIT uses the project to refine communication technology, according to professor Dale Joachim.
"Counting owls is politically and business-oriented, and there is a lot of money involved," Joachim said. In states with large logging industries, such as Maine, California and Oregon, loggers must monitor and count owls since some of them are protected species. "They are paying biologists to go into the woods and count," Joachim said. "MIT is refining the technology that can call the owls, record their answers and extrapolate the data from those recordings."
Projects such as Unity's this weekend will allow MIT to "build a tapestry that can be studied over a period of time."
Central Maine has a larger than average owl population ? 12 varieties of owls live in Maine ? and that is why the study is centered there.