Tech Wreck: Scientists Used Fitbits and Spy Microphones to Listen to the Hunting, Fighting and Sleeping of the Canadian Lynx

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Tech wreckage: Scientists used Fitbits and a spy microphone to listen to the hunting, fighting and sleeping of the Canadian Lynx

  • Scientists used a Fitbit and a spy microphone to gain new insights into the secret lives of the Canadian lynx
  • This helped researchers learn more about their hunting, fighting and sleeping methods
  • More than 14,000 in audio was recorded, including “caught chases, screams from the prey when caught, calls from the prey as they escaped and creaking bones”
  • Thirty-nine collars were placed on 26 different lynxes over a five-year period

Scientists used a Fitbit and a spy microphone to gain new insights into the secret life of the Canadian lynx, one of the most elusive big cats.

The findings, published in British Ecological Association, enabled researchers to learn more about their hunting, fighting and sleeping methods.

The experts — from McGill University, University of Alberta and Trent University — were able to capture more than 14,000 hours of audio from the lynx for study.

“When we worked on one of the boreal forest’s best predators, the Canadian lynx, we discovered that two different technologies, accelerometers and audio recording equipment, can be used to remotely monitor predators’ hunting behavior and even kill of small prey,” the study’s lead author, Emily Studd, said in a: statement.

“A lot of people want to know what wild animals do when we can’t see them,” added study co-author Allyson Menzies. “The ability to continuously record their movements and sounds in their natural environment can provide insight into mating rituals, parental care, social interactions — even how individuals differ from one another or change over time.”

The Canada lynx (pictured) is one of the most elusive big cats in North America.  Researchers were able to gain more insight using a Fitbit and a spy microphone to capture 14,000 hours of audio

The Canada lynx (pictured) is one of the most elusive big cats in North America. Researchers were able to gain more insight using a Fitbit and a spy microphone to capture 14,000 hours of audio

The 14,000 hours of audio included 'caught chases, screams from the prey as they were caught, calls from the prey as they escaped and creaking bones'

The 14,000 hours of audio included ‘caught chases, screams from the prey as they were caught, calls from the prey as they escaped and creaking bones’

Study co-authors Emily Studd (right) and Allyson Menzies (left) examining a lynx

Study co-authors Emily Studd (right) and Allyson Menzies (left) examining a lynx

The experts were able to get 39 collars from 26 different lynxes over a five-year period, Studd, a postdoctoral researcher at McGill University and the University of Alberta, told Canada News Center CBC.

Of the more than 14,000 hours of audio, Studd and the other researchers captured “chases, screams from the prey when caught, calls from the prey as they escaped.”

They also heard “bone cracking, along with friendly and aggressive interactions between several lynxes,” she added in the statement.

The researchers used the Fitbit's GPS to track a male lynx's behavior over a day.  They looked at acoustic (right) and acceleration (bottom) signatures of each of the devices.

The researchers used the Fitbit’s GPS to track a male lynx’s behavior over a day. They looked at acoustic (right) and acceleration (bottom) signatures of each of the devices.

An actogram of a male lynx with continuous behavior for 1 month, as measured by the Fitbit and the spy microphone

An actogram of a male lynx with continuous behavior for 1 month, as measured by the Fitbit and the spy microphone

Weighing between 15 and 30 pounds and 30-35 inches in length, lynxes are widely distributed throughout Canada and Alaska.

In March 2000, they were listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in the 48 contiguous states due to human activity, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

Researchers have no estimate of how many remain in North America given how unremarkable they are.

In March, a Canadian farmer filmed grabbing a lynx by the scruff of the neck and yelling at him for killing his chickens.

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