High-tech tools that help scientists save our wildlife

Technology makes some artificial habitat structures more efficient. Credit: Matthew Newton, WWF Australia

All over the world the Earth’s natural environment is collapsing on a truly shocking scale. This means a place where animals need shelter and breeding, for example hollow trees, rock crevices and reefsdisappear.

The only long-term way to protect them animals it will stop the destruction of their homes. But political resistance, financial interests and other factors often work to prevent this. Therefore, scientists need to be creative to try to curb extinction in the short term.

One way to do this is to create artificial habitat structures. Ours new researchreleased today, examines how ingenious high-tech innovations make some structures more efficient.

But artificial habitats are not a silver bullet. Some of them can harm animals, and they can be used by developers to divert attention from the damage done by their projects.

What are artificial habitat structures?

Animals rely on certain environmental features to survive, grow, breed and maintain healthy populations. Artificial structures seek to replicate these habitats.

Some man-made homes provide habitat for only one species, while others benefit the entire ecological community.

They have been created for a large number of animals around the world, such as:

  • boxes that mimic tree hollows, for beetles
  • nests of coconut husk, for seabirds
  • nests of adobe brick and aerated concrete for the shy albatross
  • “Hotels” based on fishing, for seahorses
  • ceramic poles that provide a surface for spotted fish lay eggs
  • textured tiles attached to the waterfront, providing habitat for up to 85 marine species.

The modular modular structure of the artificial reef, printed on 3D printing, was developed by Alex Goad.

How do new technologies help?

More recently, wildlife advocates partnership with engineers and designers to incorporate new and exciting technologies into artificial habitat design.

For example, researchers in Queensland recently found automated microchip doors on nest boxes for bushy-tailed opossums.

The doors only opened for microchipped opossums as they approached, and most opossums were trained to use them in about 11 days. Such technology can help prevent predators and other animals from nesting boxes intended for endangered species.

In New Zealand, small local lizards hide from predatory mice in the crevices of stone mounds. The researchers used Video game program visualize these 3D spaces and create piles of Goldilocks stones – those in which the gaps are large enough to let the lizards in, but small enough to exclude mice.

3D printing to create artificial habitats is also becoming more common.

The scientists used a combination of computer simulation, augmented reality and 3D printing to create artificial owl nests resembling termites on trees.

And researchers and designers have created 3D printing stone pools and reefs to provide habitat for marine life.

This is not all good news

Collaboration between scientists and engineers has created amazing new homes for wildlife, but there is still plenty of room to improve.

Microchips, 3D printers, augmented reality: high-tech tools to help scientists save our wildlife

Artificial habitats, such as these tiles added to the wall, can help in the short term view. Author: Alex Goad, Reef Design Lab

In some cases, artificial habitats can be harmful to animal health. For example, they can get too hot or be located in areas with little food or many predators.

And artificial habitats can become ineffective if not monitored and maintained.

You can also use artificial habitats greens environmentally destructive projects, or to distract from taking serious action to climate change and habitat loss.

In addition, artificial habitat structures are often only possible on a small scale, and their construction, deployment, and maintenance can be expensive.

If the main causes of species decline, including habitat destruction and climate change– not considered, artificial habitat structures will do little to help wildlife in the long run.

What’s next?

It’s great that conservationists can create high-tech homes for wildlife – but it would be better if they didn’t need to.

Despite the declining numbers of countless species, environmental damage continues rapidly.

Native forests and rivers are being cut down harnessed. Coastal oceans are transformed into marinas or dams and greenhouse gases are pumped into the atmosphere.

Such actions are the root cause of species decline.

We strongly encourage further collaboration between scientists and engineers to improve the artificial habitat structures and help preserve animals. But if we help with one hand, we must stop the destruction of the other.

Artificial wildlife shelters are a popular barrier to habitat destruction, but more research is needed


This article is republished from Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read original article.Conversation

Citation: Microchips, 3D printers, augmented reality: high-tech tools to help scientists save our wildlife (2022, February 16), obtained February 16, 2022 from microchips-3d-printers-augmented -reality.html

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