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May 30, 2018

These Otters Needed Stochastic Dynamic Programming

Because you try life without abelones to eat...

By CBR Staff Writer

Its World Otter Day (don’t pretend you didn’t know), so here at Computer Business Review we want to bring you four ways otters, humans and enterprise technology all swim together to support otter conservation.

AI to Save Otters

Scientist have long been concerned about how endangered species such as the Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) and its prey interact. Knowing this can help identify potential scarcity of resources that could put otters at risk.

Australian researchers turned to AI to enhance understanding of how different species interact with each other and help build models that let us better manage population recovery when needed.

‘’Using simulation-based optimization procedures from artificial intelligence, namely reinforcement learning and stochastic dynamic programming, we combined sea otter and northern abalone population models with functional-response models and examined how different management actions affect population dynamics and the likelihood of achieving recovery targets for each species through time.’’

Mobile Phones to Save Otters

In order to analysis, relocate or treat otters unfortunately scientist have to capture them first. Leg traps are a common way to do this, but sadly otters can injure themselves trying to get out of these traps.

In stepped researchers with a novel technological solution to help reduce the harm; setting up a new protocol for capturing otters by using Global System for Mobile communication (GSM).

Once the Otter finds itself caught in a padded leg-hold trap, alarms alert the researchers via mobile phone technology. They can then capture the otter in a record time reducing distress and injury in the animal.

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‘’As a result, we strongly encourage the use of GSM trap alarms under the principle of refinement in animal experiments.’’

Telemetry to Spy on Giant Otters

Activity patterns of giant otters recorded by telemetry and camera traps

The Giant Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is a social species that maintains territories along bodies of water. While researcher had some visual records of them at night, it was determined that they were not active.

However, researchers in Brazil decided to utilise technology to find out once and for all what Giant Otters get up to at night time.

They captured, (hopefully with padded leg-hold phone alerted traps) a number of otters and implanted them with radio transmitters and set up camera traps in the area.

Upon analysing the radio telemetry and camera data it was determined that the otters did indeed like to have a bit of fun at night and enjoyed midnight dips in the water, with maybe some night time fishing on the side.

In fact: “Fishing was the most frequent (64 percent) behaviour recorded by telemetry.’’

otterInfrared Technology to Monitor Otters

Otters have civil liberties too, so scientists in Wales and Scotland developed a non-intrusive means of gathering data from otters.

Examining the Eurasian Otters (Lutra lutra) the researchers set up a series of infrared counters in three tributaries of the River Dee. While the otters were none the wiser, we humans learnt a lot about their movement patterns; at what times of the year the river hit peak otters and once again discovered that otters like a bit of night time fishing.

‘’Our study indicates that, under suitable conditions, infrared technology can be used effectively to examine non-intrusively the activity of free-ranging otters in running waters, offering some advantages over previous, more intrusive techniques that relied on the collection of spraints, the use of radioisotopes or the tracking of marked individuals.’’

We’re otter here.

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