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Bosch S.,Metterstrasse 16 | Bosch S.,Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | Spiessl M.,Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | Muller M.,Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | And 2 more authors.
Hystrix | Year: 2015

Monitoring is a fundamental aspect of species conservation and research. Technological advances, especially with respect to camera trap technologies, have allowed glimpses into unknown aspects of species behaviour and have the potential to greatly assist species distribution monitoring. Here we present the findings of a pilot study combining existing biological monitoring techniques with mechatronics to advance monitoring technologies and develop a multi-purpose, species specific, automated monitoring system. We developed a Small Mammal Monitoring Unit (SMMU) that integrates automated video, and sound recording, carries out body weight measurements and takes hairs samples with a bait station in a portable perspex box. The unit has the potential for use with a range of small mammal species, but has been field-tested here on red squirrels, Sciurus vulgaris, in Germany, Scotland and Switzerland. We successfully collected hair-samples, body mass data as well as video and sound recordings. Preliminary data analyses also revealed behavioural information. Heavier individuals first gained access to the feeder in the morning and have longer feeding bouts. Our prototype demonstrated that the collaboration between mechatronics and biology offers novel, integrated monitoring techniques for a range of research application. The development of units for other mammal species is planned. Future developments will explore the possibilities for wireless data transmission, built-in collection of weather data and collection of images from inside the unit for the recognition of individuals. © 2015 Associazione Teriologica Italiana.

Usutu virus (USUV) is a flavivirus transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Culex. USUV was presumably introduced into Europe through migrating birds or mosquitoes during the last ten years. USUV established stable transmission cycles in Europe between mosquitos and hosts and is able to hibernate within Europe. Since the first record in 2001 in Austria, USUV caused five larger outbreaks with USUV-induced mass mortalities, especially on Blackbirds and captive owls, and probably a number of smaller outbreaks without recorded mass mortality. In our review we compile the up-to-date knowledge about the agent, the mosquitos as vectors and the birds as main hosts. A review of published studies revealed a total of 3050 bird individuals from 129 species and a wide variety of orders that have been tested for USUV during the last decade in Europe in connection with USUV outbreaks. Out of these, 48 species have been tested positively - mainly songbirds incl. crows (24 species), owls and birds of prey (9 species). Most cases concerned Blackbird, followed by House Sparrow, Blackcap, Great Grey Owl and Ural Owl. Among the 48 species tested positively, 39 concerned free living individuals and nine concerned captive individuals. Potential ways of propagation of USUV from Africa into Europe as well as inside Europe are discussed. Blackbirds seem to be especially perceptive to USUV. With regard to their species-specific biology we try to give an explanation for this phenomenon: presumably, Blackbirds have a weak immune system due to moult and nutrition state during the main flight period of the mosquitoes and are thus more perceptive to virus attacks. © DO-G, IfV, MPG 2012.

Bosch S.,Metterstrasse 16 | Lurz P.W.W.,Lurzengasse 3
Hystrix | Year: 2013

We present unique footage and an analysis of recorded data of a free-ranging red squirrel building its drey in February 2012 inside a nestbox fitted with a hidden camera. Drey construction occurred over a period of three days that was dominated by an initial phase of transporting material; this then shifted more and more to construction of the outer twigg-shell of the drey and to the processing of materials for the soft inner lining and core of the drey. Total construction time in terms of minutes of red squirrel presence logged was 3.6 hours. Construction occurred after a period of 4-5 days of dry weather and at temperatures that were well above 0° C. After the squirrel abandoned the drey, the dry material was explored and used by songbirds indicating the importance of accessible structures and dry construction material for other species. The video is available as supplemental material in the online version. © 2014 Associazione Teriologica Italiana.

Modern camera technology opens exciting opportunities for new and unexpected observations of animal behaviour and data collection. Despite the existence of a large number of studies that employed cameras, there is a lack of technically-oriented overviews and reports where equipment was used continuously. Here, we therefore illustrate the opportunities camera technology offers, and collate our extensive experiences with songbirds and small mammals using a specially designed camera system for observations. Small portable cameras present clear advantages such as an affordable price, adaptability to requirements, reliability and high quality images. Despite emissions of infrared-light and heat, camera-equipped nest boxes are accepted by animals for sleeping or breeding without problems. However, it is important to accept that cameras do alter the conditions inside the nest boxes. CCD-cameras are in our experience preferable to CMOS-cameras. Picture quality is comparable for both cameras but the former emit less heat. The continuous use of cameras in next boxes over several years also showed the problems one encounters when employing the technology. Dirt, wasp nests, spiders or gnawed cables by mice or squirrels can all interrupt data collection. Some research questions require motion-triggered images, however false-positives can be caused by light-changes inside or outside of the nest or at the entrance, precipitation, moving vegetation (e.g. branches or leaves), spiders or insects. In addition, poor picture quality can occur during overcast skies or in twilight, as cameras switch to IR-illumination in low light levels. In order to motivate people to use cameras themselves we offer advice and tips based on our experiences as well as legal and organisational information. With the increasing use of camera technology in research and citizen science, we also propose the creation of a code of conduct to avoid negative impacts on study animals and offer initial suggestions based on the current work. © DO-G, IfV, MPG 2016.

The poisonous gas carbon monoxide (CO) is not only produced as a result of combustion processes but can also be inhaled during the operation of barbecues, the smoking of water pipes, or in wood pellet stores. Inhalation of carbon monoxide can lead to life-threatening or chronic poisoning. The present article provides information on the formation and effects of CO in domestic settings, and gives advice on how instances of poisoning can be avoided. © 2016 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

The use of nestbox cameras allows detailed observations of communally roosting wrens. Here I present a documentation of their activity patterns during four nights during November 2010 and February 2011. Despite the volume of fascinating data, additional information on age, sex and relatedness of individuals would be desirable in future studies. The data indicate that there is a cost to communal roosting and individuals sleep more restlessly as a result of ongoing, continuous disturbance. The most common activities resulting in nightly disturbances are preening, changes in position of individuals within the group and defecation at the edge of the nest. There is an indication that the type and frequency of activities vary with temperature, with less preening in colder nights and an increase in individual movements to get to the warm centre of the group. This can be seen during a frosty December night when movement activity and repositioning of individuals dominated compared to preening. The coldest of four nights when temperatures reached as low as - 10°C was the only one that had periods of calm and again perceptibly less preening activity. © DO-G, IfV, MPG 2014.

In chilly winter nights wrens start..cluster roosting" as a response to low temperatures in suitable locations. Up to 18 wrens used a wooden concrete nestbox for roosting, which was prepared with a monitoring camera. We can therefore report on what wrens are doing during 15 hours of a winter night. In the first frosty November night two birds visited the nestbox at sunset but only one wren stayed for the night. This paper reports on the behaviour of this single winter wren roosting in an old sparrow nest. When the two birds investigated the nestbox they communicated with series of quiet "ick-ick"-calls (sonogram is shown). There was no evidence of aggressive interspecific behaviour. When arriving at the roost the wrens were restless, entering and leaving the nestbox several times. They appeared to check the roosting site and to look for conspecifics. The remaining bird slept in a puffed up ball shape for optimal thermoregulation. Sleeping was disrupted several times at night for changing sleeping position, preening and at one time for defaecating. In the morning the bird left the nest box after stretching and preening, 42 minutes before sunrise. The observed behaviour is illustrated by more than 30 images and documents that monitoring cameras can give us new insights into the hidden life of little songbirds and other animals. © DO-G, IfV, MPG 2013.

Bosch S.,Metterstrasse 16
Biologie in Unserer Zeit | Year: 2016

Intraosseous line. In cases of emergency an intravenous line is necessary to administer live-saving infusions and drugs. In hemorrhagic shock, hypothermia or circulatory arrest it can be difficult to get access to systemic circulation. An alternative is an intraosseous line by inserting a needle into the medullary cavitiy in the epiphysis of a long bone. With a system working with a cordless screw-driver the canula can be administered save and in a few seconds. Via the osteons drugs and infusions reach the circulation. Pharmacokinetics are comparable to an intravenous line. Anatomical basics of the technique are 300, first practical work nearly 100 years old. New technologies facilitate the easily application of intraosseous lines in medicine. Copyright © 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim

Bosch S.,University of Edinburgh | Lurz P.W.W.,Metterstrasse 16
Biologie in Unserer Zeit | Year: 2015

Competition for resources in Europe's forests - grey versus red squirrels As a result of the introduction of the north American grey squirrel in Britain, Ireland and Italy in the 19th and 20th century, the sole native tree squirrel species in Europe - the red squirrel - faced a completely novel competitor. In order to understand the interactions between the two species and to develop a conservation strategy, the two species' biology and ecology was the focus of intense research over the last 25 years. We provide an overview of research findings and the complex competitive interactions for resources and the curcial role of disease in the replacement of native red by introduced grey squirrels. Key factors in the competitive replacement process are habitat composition and patterns of seed food availability, which directly influence individual body condition and reproductive success. In addition, in the British Isles a squirrelpox virus for which grey squirrels act as a reservoir and vector has a drastic impact on the competitive interactions between the two species. © 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

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