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A spotlight on cutting-edge technologies for biodiversity monitoring in tropical ecosystems

Short title: Cutting-edge biomonitoring in the tropics

Chairs: Thomas Luypaert, Dr. Yennie Bredin, Dr. Meley Mekonen Rannestad

Contact: thomas.luypaert@nmbu.no

The tropics are renowned as global bastions of biodiversity but are increasingly imperilled by human activities. In the face of human-induced environmental degradation, the collection of data that provides an objective record of community-level biodiversity is crucial to our understanding of fundamental ecological processes, the trends and drivers of change, and the progress made towards conservation targets. However, the rapid and global nature of the biodiversity crisis makes monitoring biodiversity at appropriate spatio-temporal scales a daunting task, especially in the hyper-diverse tropics, where many species are poorly known. Traditional biomonitoring methods are valuable, but on their own, often fall short in capturing the full extent of tropical biodiversity. In recent times, however, cutting-edge technologies and methodologies have shown great potential to help bridge this gap. In this session, we will explore a range of innovative tools that show promise to revolutionize biodiversity monitoring in the tropics. Automated acoustic sensors can capture tropical symphonies over long periods of time, while environmental DNA has been shown reveal hidden species from thin air. Drones, equipped with advanced sensors, can capture the three-dimensional structure of rainforests using LiDAR, or reveal hidden species using heat signatures. Camera traps provide a glimpse into the presence and behaviours of elusive species, and GPS tracking can trace the movements of species where humans cannot go. Moreover, machine learning algorithms can aid in processing the vast datasets these new tools produce, enabling precise monitoring while reducing human workloads. This session aims to shine a spotlight on recent technological and methodological advancements that hold promise for enhancing the efficacy of tropical biodiversity monitoring. We aspire to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration, bringing together experts from various fields to harness the power of these groundbreaking tools. We invite researchers, conservationists, technologists, and innovators to join us in showcasing technological advances in tropical biomonitoring.

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