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— urbantick

Tag "animals"

Animals have featured on this blog mostly in connection to technology in some form and always in regards to movement. Studying these patterns are especially fascinating as they complement snapshot impressions one normally has if just observing the animal occasionally. It is however also a reminder that movement pattern are much less structured and determined than is generally believed. Movement is goal oriented, but in order to maximise performance it is extremely flexible and opportunistic behaviour.

Movement is therefor very expressive, it tells the story of desire and emotion and is the basis of many art forms, foremost dance, eg. this old post on the movement of the body and creation of space.

Image taken from The Guardian / Snails of the gros-gris (fat greys) species saved from the plate.

snail ballet

An upcoming art work has mixed these aspects together and come up with a brilliantly mistifying snail ballet. Elizabeth Saint-Jalmes and Cyril Leclerc have created a dance of the animals supported by live music. It is also a live event that is coming to London’s Kings Place on Fri 20 & Sat 21 April – booking here.

Pixel lent / slow pixel from Cyril Leclerc on Vimeo.

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Over the pas few month urbanTick was involve with a another tracking project lead by the British Royal Soil Society. The focus of the project is the investigation of the upper and middle soil layer around Britain to determine the advocational capacity of wildlife. It has been acknowledge how important these layers are in the wider context of the life cycle documentation.

We have been tracking earthworms as the main regenerator of soils. They are essential for the quality of the soil basically eating their way through the ground leaving behind healthier material. This is in the growint traditionof animal tracking projects. For earlier stories see HERE.

earth worm
Image taken form Wikipedia / The common Earth Worm.

Image taken form envirosci / Different types of soils allow for different digging speeds.

For the tracking we have been working with a modified bird tracker, a mini responder worked into a plaster. This flat design of the technology bit has no impact on the worms capacity to digg his way through the tunnels. The antenna is the only element that sticks out but is very flexible. This pat is essential to allow for good communication under ground.

Images taken form Arturs clip art and superstock / The tiny tracker plaster used in the study. Here ‘Flippy’ models the unintrusive investigation device. She seemed very happy and wiggled this way and that way.

Great data has been received from this ongoing investigation. We now have a record depth of 22 meter that one of the worms ‘diggy’ has reached on the 21 of March. It has been unknown that worms do actually dig very deep after a good night out. Another worm ‘speedy’ has managed to underpass a road up north in the Willisher Area in just 5.5 days. Given the fact that it is difficult to navigate underground ‘Speedy’ has shown a tremendously impressive performance.

earthworm digging
Image taken from Transit Newton Abbot / Some of the participating back gardens had to be dugg up in order to reclaim the rather expensive tracking equipment. However most people were happy to contribute something to an important environmental assessment.

However, the activity is not only restricted to underground some of the worms like ‘birdy’ have a history of overground activities, including climbing and flying. ‘Birdy must have been picked up by a bird or something. His record showed a rapid movement up to a hight of 8.4 meter above soil level. Her name should actually be ‘Lucky’, she escaped and dugg in right after. She is now at a constant depth of around 30 cm.

Some of the study results are also expected to find their way into the development of the the lastest Worms 3D game.

Worms 3D
Image taken form application for us / Guess this is the new bird strategy.

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Architectural anthropology is described as: ‘At the end of the sixties, in the course of the so-called ‘crisis of modern architecture’ a movement of architectural theoreticians greatly stimulated by Amos Rapoport’s ‘Built Form and Culture’ (1969) began to widen their horizon into the ethnology of architecture’ (Egentre, 1990).
In this sense it is the research into the history of architecture. Together with an illustration of five lines of architectural evolution it is presented as a comprehensive body of work into the understanding of how architecture developed into a technological sophisticated science. But essentially it argues that as long as humans (even great apes) had a urge to adjust the environment to suit specific needs.
Interesting to me seems the argument that architecture can be traced back to the nest building of great apes. However this will definitely be challenged with questions around design and the idea of a discipline of architecture as opposed to individual temporal structures. However this is probably an argumentation of modernist understanding of the ‘plan’. Nevertheless I would argue that between temporal structures of ‘night beds’ constructed by apes and a detailed concept of space and time lies a big gap. It might be down to a few million years of evolution, I don’t know.
The argument is logic, however I would remind that a lot of species build nests or construct temporal structures. Even more beyond the nest usually animals have a clear concept of space and the idea of ‘owned space’ in the sense of a territorial behavior. This territory is marked for example by a black bird singing or a cat spraying. In this context the argument might look different.

Image by Nold Egenter – The plate indicates a Macro-Theory of the Evolution of Habitat and Architecture and at the same time the Evolution of Culture

For the argumentation and presentation of architectural project a lot of leaps an crazy combinations are undertaken. And recently nests have seen a rise in popularity, but I have not heard H&dM arguing for their Olympic stadium that the shape is the origin of architecture. However it would fit.

Image taken from creative class – the bird nest at night

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A very beautiful timeLapse by Chase Rees on life in the garden when it rains. The little animals really like the rain and as it rains they all come out and slitter over leaves, rocks and branches to find something to eat or just to hang out with some friends on an old tree stump.
These one foot creatures are beautiful in the rain and seeing this it suddenly makes a lot of sense why they come out in the rain.
There already was a whole series of animal tracking on this blog and this could be another new post tracking the one footed housekeepers, would be nice.

Scuttle Snails from Chase Rees on Vimeo.

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Animals have featured on the blog before, in the area of tracking. It was about Frogs / Frogs, Birds, Ants / Ants, Dogs and Cats. This time it is about dogs again. Purely in a technological sense of tracking of course. About the breed of GPS dog tracking devices.
The new model developed by RomaEO has featured on several news sites in the past few days. It comes with a central device and collar as a sender. With the central device the collar is recorded. A maximum of two collars can be tracked at the same time.
The spatial limitation is 3 Miles. So for hunting a good distance, if you are more sort of a leisure dog type and your dog is not well trained and often runs off, this might not be enough. The device is “tracking” the pet as it is called in the description, but I doubt that it actually records these tracks. This is not mentioned anywhere in the description.

Image by RomEO

It comes at quite a price. The basic set of handheld and one collar costs about $280.00 and an additional collar is again $160.00. It is currently only sold within the United States because of radio frequency issues.
The company has a range of products for dog (pet) owners. They even showcase a, presumably (telling from the images), iPhone based software for pet tracking. We are looking forward to hear more about this.

Comparable tracking system by Garmin is the Astro 220. It can track up to TEN! dogs (animals) at the same time. The downside ere s that the collar transmits only up to every fie seconds. If you have a hunting dog, five seconds can be quite a distance. It does track the pack up to seven miles (depending a bit on terrain). It is also priced in a different liga at $500.00

Images by Garmin

So to conclude, the RomaEO is some everyday product for the general public, make some money, leaving some responsibility to technology type. You might find it fun for a couple of hours, but it probably wears out.
The Garmin Astra on the other hand is a hardcore outdoor gadget for the serious user. It is extendable, durable and costs a lot.

There is a whole market out there for the cheap pet tracking products and these companies are puling all the triggers to convince people they might need this and will be able to use it. Companies like Zoombak offer the whole range of tracking from pet, to kids, to partner. That is a service. If you are more in for the silly side of all this tracking this add might be for you.

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The role of cycles and routines in culture have been explored in various aspects on this blog earlier. From early settlements to the concept of time in terms of units such as days, weeks and month.
One of the cultures that have throughout a very strong concept of repetition in the more literal sense is ancient Egypt, the culture of the Pharaohs. There is so much research on this culture out there and for Europe and especially Britain this has been a deep fascination for centuries. The British Museum is stuffed to the roof with artifacts and knowledge collected in Egypt.
What I want to look at is the “simple“ concept of the birth and death of the sun during the course of one day. Two elements in Egypt have had a fundamental impact on how the Egyptian culture has formed. This is on one hand the Nile as the life spending river that runs through the deathly desert from south to north and the sun that spends the warmth and makes the plants grow that travels from east to west. These two elements might also had a fundamental influence in how orientation and navigation was developed. (Yi-Fu Tuan (1974), Topophilia. Columbia University Press, New York) It is believed, that the Egyptian culture hated the darkness that arose together with the cold as soon as the sun has touched the horizon in the west. The dark and the cold were associated with death, just like the daily death of the sun. As an opposition to this there was the daily birth of the sun as it rose over the horizon in the east. For this miracle the Scarab beetle was responsible. The beetle was an important character that took care of the death and was associated with the Egyptian god, Khepri. He did take care of the sun and made sure, that after she died in the evening she was reborn in the morning in the east. To do so he rolled the sun just like a ball backwards along the sky, just like a Scarab beetle would roll a ball of dung. So the beetle rolled the son during the night from west to east. The Egyptian name for this important insect was ”Kheper“. The scarab beetle was also a symbol of rebirth after death. To believe in being reborn led to the mummification of the dead body, to preserve it for it’s next life. When the Egyptians mummified a body they would remove the heart and put a stone carved like the beetle in its place. Just like the sun would be reborn every day, also humans would be sent back from the death to be reborn. The idea of cycles and repetition as observed in nature was deeply embedded in the culture of ancient Egypt.

Image from labspaces.net

Some sort of visualization with a time lapse of the night sky.
Perseids from powrslave on Vimeo.

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In my earlier master thesis work on cycles I wrote about different kinds of natural cycles. One of the examples was the yearly event for ant colonies when the drones leave the nest.
Today was this day again, at least in our garden and around the house here in London. Hundreds of ants (black garden ant (Lasius niger)) winged individuals flying in the air in search of a mating partner. Then the female ants loose their wings and find a place to start a new colony, were as the males die.
Both female and male winged ants are produced by the colony as reproducers and it is a big effort for the colony to bring up this large number of individuals that will once ready leave the nest, but are not taking part in the supporting activities.
The date and time they leave the nest depends heavily on the conditions. It is mainly the temperature that is important. This is to ensure that the ants can fly (not raining) and that after the female ants loose their wings they have enough time to find a new nesting place.
“Disparities between local weather conditions can cause nuptial flights to be out of phase amongst widespread populations of L. niger. During long-lasting, hot summers, flights can take place simultaneously across the country, but overcast weather with local patches of sunshine results in a far less synchronised emergence of alates (winged individuals).” (from wikipedia)

Image by urbanTick – ant discarding the wings

Great information on ants on antblog or The Kurt Kuene Antpage. The ant bible would be The Superorganism by Bert Hoelldobler and E.O. Wilson. They do not agree on everything, but they make a great team. They have published a number of books including The Ants in 1997.
Ants have featured earlier this year in a blog post, in relation with tracking and how they leave informations on their trail for fellow ants.

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A series of video tracking clips by Jeremy Wood. Great visualz, but not sure how it is done and processed. It sais GPS but it looks more like video tracking…

by Jeremy Wood and Hugh Pryor

Dog Drawing from Jeremy Wood on Vimeo.

Jeremy Wood is working with GPS for a long time and on his website GPSdrawing.com he shows an extensive archive of his personal records and works using GPS. There are some great drawings and writing to be checked out.

Image by Jeremy Wood – Location: N51° 52′ 14.3″ W3° 27′ 36.4″ Brecon Beacons (2.1 km SW from Pen Y Fan), Wales
Time: 16/07/02 (09:41:07-10:29:14), Track Length: 4.169 km, Average speed: 3.5 kph, Method: Foot
I lost the fight to finish the off the dragon in the time available, it remains half emerged from the side of a hill.

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The topic of animal tracking has featured on the blog already a few times, starting with a joke for April first. It was a story about tracking frogs in my backyard and it sparkled a number of responses ranging from oh, how are they supposed to mate with this large tracking device, to uh, actually we don’t even know how many of these amphibians live in our back gardens.
So here is an other one, not a joke, but an animal tracking project, tracking your cat! It makes of an interesting combination. Cats are known very loyal and loving animals; they like routine, show up when you feed them and will lie on your computer keyboard when you try to work. There is another side to this cuddly animal. It is a hunter and predator, kills and eats a large variety of small animal and enjoys strolling around. This second side we, as pet holder know very little about. How far do they stroll, where do they hunt and where do they sleep, are some of the questions we might find ourselves thinking about while on the bus to work. Is Spotty maybe enjoying herself at the neighbors, or does the old lady down the road feed her? The cat wouldn’t tell us and we will never know, which is probably good, but there you go here comes the solution. Why not tracking your cat with GPS? (Found through csendsedesign blog)
The solution is Mr. Lee’s CatTracker. A simple GPS tracker that you can put on your cat let it collect some data and then download to the computer put it on Google Earth and most likely you will get some lines around your house, in your back yard and down the street, great!

Image from mr-lee-catcam.de

This is it the tin y device that can be attached via a harness or collar to the cat and of it goes. It is a small pack, containing receiver, battery and antenna. It connects via USB 1.1 runs for approximately 30 hours while saving location points every 30 seconds and has storage capacity for 64000 points. That makes for around 530 hours of tracking… while charging of course. Anyway, would be fun to test the device.

Image from mr-lee-catcam.de

Of course the company does have some more great ideas for pet owners. There is also the catCam. Put a cam on your cat and you can even see what the cat saw. A clip can be seen here.
The page has also lots of tips and trick, including manuals if you are planning to build your own tracking equipment to follow your pet. Bits and peaces are available from their web store.

Having said that, there are scientific pet tracking project. One of them featured not long a go in an article in the Guardian and is looking at cat as predators. Scientist believe that cats “are responsible for the deaths of millions of small wild animals each year” (Guardian from Monday 16th of February) Research is undertaken at the University of Reading and the project including the GPS receivers seems not to have started yet.

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Some more info on frog tracking I have found these days online. A real tracking device for frogs exists and has been tested in a number of studies already. it is more of a belt rather than a backpack. I am not sure how much it affects the swim performance but it definitely looks much cooler than the pack!

Image from Holohil Systems Ltd., paper Evaluation of a radio-belt for ranid frogs by Galen B. Rathbun and Thomas G. Murphey

Image from UCBerkleyNews from a study in the Sierra Nevada to research the decline of the mountain yellow-legged frog.

There is more to this topic about amphibians and reptiles in our gardens tough. Apparently no one really knows what is happening at dawn, dusk or tough out the night at the back in the grass. An online article on BBC.co.uk describes with the title ‘Stock-take’ of garden creatures and calls out “Whether it is frogs in your ferns, or toads in your tulips, a coalition of wildlife charities is asking for volunteers to carry out a national “stock-take” of the reptiles and amphibians in the UK’s gardens.” So if you are a proud user of a back garden, report the activity you observe.

Actually, the two frogs ‘Blurb’ and ‘Rosi’ are now out and about the garden again, but without the GPS devices. No need to worry about them they are fine and probably remember the first of April!

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