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Electronic Data Systems Can Provide a Productivity Boost to Conservation Management

Posted: 29th November 2018 08:30

Conservation management is about as far from an easy task as one could imagine. The scope of this task can be more easily understood by first looking at the reasons for it. Conservation efforts typically begin due to an issue with the local ecology. People first began to become more globally aware of the fragile nature of ecosystems in the 1980s. Since that time it's remained an issue of considerable importance.

But the fact that it's remained an in-progress subject for so many decades demonstrates why it's such a difficult problem to solve. The fact is that we didn't recognize the complexity of ecological systems at first. And this is in large part because those systems are just so huge. The number of interlocking components with any given ecosystem can be downright intimidating.

Small changes with a big impact

It's often the case that even a small change in one part of an environment will dramatically impact every other aspect. For example, consider the case of mosquitoes. It's a rare person who has any fondness for mosquitos. At best they're a stinging insect which leaves itchy marks on one's body. At worst they serve as a disease vector.
But consider what happens when someone puts a program into place to destroy a mosquito population. It can seem beneficial to humans at first. An annoying pest which can turn into a major medical threat is now out of the picture. But what it also does is remove something eaten by other species. For example, a frog's diet might get a heavy supplement from eating mosquitos.

With his meal gone, the frogs might not live or breed. Then the animals who eat frogs will suffer major issues as well. And this can go all the way up the food chain. The changes in the animal population can even modify the overall landscape. If beavers are impacted by dietary issues then their dams will no longer be constructed.

Finding solutions to a complex problem

Systems like Telstar Instruments in California do suggest possible solutions though. Their systems and similar offerings use electronic systems and tools to manage overall conservation management.

This might seem like an odd combination at first. Natural problems with ecology might not seem like a match for high technology. But people using automation have been witnessing a big change in how it's done. More advanced AI-based systems operate in different ways than people are used to.

And this is where it becomes an amazing tool for conservation management. The short of it is that a fluid ecological system is an ideal match for a more fluid style of computation. But there's quite a bit more to explore within this concept.

The basic infrastructure on a software level

One of the most basic aspects of computational conservation management comes from databases. A database is a huge, indexed, collection of data. This can be as expansive as the task requires as long as the hardware is up to properly indexing it. For example, one could use a species name as the key. And from there every aspect of its life cycle and needs could match up with environmental changes.

This can even become as extensive as genetic or historical data. The only real limit is how powerful the computer working with it might be. But modern technology often makes it easy to link up less powerful systems to a larger piece of hardware. So that, for example, one could have a smartphone acting as a tool to send a search while the main system handles the heavy computation.

Adding in additional hardware

It's now clear how computational systems can take in and work with data. But the systems have come to a far more complete state thanks to an ability to actually monitor the environment.

For example, regional water systems and utilities can monitor pH levels. The systems can then work with the underlying conservation management software to compensate for these levels. It could even predict the probable effects of pH levels on the environment. However, it's important to remember that all of this is more an example than anything. It's a couple of important points which are among the easier elements to illustrate.

In the end, technology has almost unlimited ways in which it can help ecological concerns. The main point is that people need to realize how flexible many of these tools can be. And this is particularly true for conservation management systems. The combination of powerful software and hardware makes it extremely effective and flexible.

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