Looking for more LIDAR substance

Hey all,

I have been considering developing my I-SWOOP program about the LIDAR scanning technology. However, I am struggling with the content that should be involved.

My thoughts so far:

Introduce program with take a stand  activity to discuss people’s thoughts/feelings on use of technology in National Parks.

Introduce NPS mission, and ask audience if they think that technology can play a role in upholding this mission. If so, how?  Discuss.

Share with them what LIDAR scanning technology: What LIDAR stands for, how it works,  What has it been used for thus far, and how it enables scientists to learn about the cave/what they have already used the technology for. ask audience members how they think that this can be used to uphold the mission.

Ask audience if they were scientists, what questions would they want to answer with this technology? Might there be other research that this technology can be used to augment (i.e various bat population models to see if previous estimates were realistic or not).

Any thoughts/feedback on what I have so far? Additions you would suggest?

I feel least confident in having the knowledge of how LIDAR works- who developed it, and what prompted scientists to start using it.  I know that the goal of I-SWOOP isn’t to impart knowledge as much as engage visitors with asking questions and discovering things themselves, but I would like more knowledge base, so I can better steer the program.

Thanks for the help!



  1. John Davis says:

    Looking into the benefits for the lidar scan over traditional cave mapping techniques might be a place to start and help you with some of the questions people might ask since you are starting with the use of technology in np’s.

  2. Martha Merson says:

    Hi Alyssa,
    Here are some quick thoughts–I quickly reread the info under STEM on the iSWOOPcave.com site. That reminded me that FARO is the manufacturer of the laser scanner Nick and Louise use. On the FARO site there is a timeline about the company. Perhaps some tidbits you can glean from there to answer questions on the tech development. I also noticed a bunch of case studies. One (toward the end, p. 15 of the case studies) includes a science application, reconstructing a dinosaur skeleton. There are some other interesting ones on historical building preservation.

    Did you check out Shane’s program outline under resources? He designed a short program something along the lines of your proposal. He used that animation of the cave mouth as well as some others. Sometimes I don’t like to look at others’ ideas until I’ve had a chance to be creative, so I understand if you don’t want to look there just yet.

    You have a couple places marked where you might get visitors talking about the park mission and technology. I’m thinking this is a nice invitation. On the other hand, people may be reticent to say anything. They might think you’re the expert on the Park Service and they don’t have much to add. I’m thinking, thinking, thinking: how to structure a related question where they’re the expert on something (in their lives, the expert on themselves), so that they are more prone to answer and share. Just an idea to play with–what if you said, now we have this great technology and all the historical parks want it, but we need it too, for caves. Which should take precedence?

    Definitely put it out there and just be prepared for silence. It’s okay if people get a chance to think about something they don’t normally. Have a back-up plan–move on or maybe you can pick someone and designate them the head of the park service, preserving things the way they’ve always been and designate someone else the person who is going to make a case for using technology. The ask the rest of the group, what are some arguments each side could use.

  3. Martha Merson says:

    Another thing–You asked: Might there be other research that this technology can be used to augment (i.e various bat population models to see if previous estimates were realistic or not). That made me think of Shauna Marquardt with the Fish and Wildlife Service. She presented on this idea in the fall of 2015. Here’s the abstract. I can give you her email if you want to ask her about it. She knows Nick and Louise and me and seems happy to talk about bats, scanning, iSWOOP, etc.

    Sorry about the formatting. This is the link if it’s easier to read there: https://www.nasbr.org/pdfs/2015_Abstracts.pdf
    Abstracts – 45th
    Annual Symposium of the North American Society for Bat Research 82
    Counting the Night’s Watchmen
    Conrad Schaefer
    , Aaron Addison
    , Steven Thomas
    , Rickard Toomey
    , Shauna Marquardt
    , and *Katie
    Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Austin,, USA;
    Cave Research Foundation, St. Louis, USA;
    National Park Service, Mammoth Cave, USA;
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Missouri Ecological Services Field
    Office, Columbia, USA;
    Bat Conservation International, Austin, USA
    Traditional methods for surveying
    hibernating bats include dire
    ct counts, estimation of large
    clusters, and digital photogra
    phy for manual counting. These methods inherently have different advantages,
    disadvantages, and biases. Terrestrial light detection and ran
    ging (T-LiDAR), technology is emerging as a
    potential tool for biological surveys in subterranean habitats.
    T-LiDAR has been used to count the number
    of horseshoe bats in a Malaysian cave (Azmy et al. 2012). Rese
    archers were able to generate a 3D model
    of the cave and use a detection algorithm to automatically count all roosting bats. This approach was
    successful only because individuals roosted singly. Many North
    American bats roost in tight clusters,
    making use of the extraction function in T-LiDAR reading softwa
    re impossible. Here, we developed a
    proof-of-concept for using T-LiDAR scans to automate estimation
    of gray bats (Myotis grisescens)
    hibernating in Long Cave, Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky,
    USA. We conducted two series of T-
    LiDAR scans: winter scans when hibernating bats were present a
    nd summer scans when bats were absent.
    We calculated the volumetric differences between scans at locat
    ions with bat clusters of determinable size,
    estimated an average volume for a single bat, and applied the result to clusters of unknown size. This
    method can be scaled-up to estimate the total number of hibernating gray bats in the cave. This unique
    model is the first time T-LiDAR has been used to automate count
    ing of hibernating bats in North America.
    Refinement of this methodology should allow managers to quickly
    , quietly, and more accurately estimate
    hibernating bat populations.