Biologists ditch traditional methods in favor of new record keeping app

August 26, 2013

Accurate sampling methods are vital to any scientific study, but for researchers estimating wildlife populations, data errors can occur while recording measurements from live animals in the field, and again when data are entered into a database. A team of Arizona State University professors in the College of Technology and Innovation (CTI) have developed a mobile application that allows their record keeping with reptiles to be more accurate and faster than traditional paper methods.

The idea of developing an app was suggested by assistant professor Heather Bateman, along with Timothy Lindquist, professor, and Richard Whitehouse, lecturer. Undergraduate and graduate students at CTI worked with Bateman, Lindquist and Whitehouse to develop the app. researchers using mobile app in the field Download Full Image

Part of Bateman’s research includes studying lizards and other reptiles by using capture-mark-recapture approaches, which involves capturing an animal in the field, recording identifiable traits of that animal and immediately releasing it back into its natural habitat. This process calls for tracking to be done on-site, usually handwritten, and then information is entered into a database upon returning to a computer.

Because each animal is given a unique code when being handled in the field, the researchers need to be certain they don’t accidently give two animals the same code. Before the app was developed, the unique codes were stored on a datasheet, requiring the technician handling the animal to mark out the used code. Problems arose when technicians neglected to cross out the code on the paper and accidentally assigned two or more animals with the same code. Oftentimes these errors were not realized until entering data back at the lab – long after the animal was released.

“We realized this was a problem for us, and probably a problem for anyone who collects data in the field,” Bateman said. “Not having a way to track electronically while on site meant we couldn’t immediately check for errors or duplications.”

The app, developed for mobile devices on iOS and Andriod platforms, is a digital method of tracking this information and automatically exports raw data to a computer where results can be analyzed. The user can record the same information on their smartphone they would in a traditional recording method. The mobile app uses pre-populated dropdown boxes and data proofing steps to guide the user through a process to enter information about an animal’s species, unique code, body length, mass and sex. Bateman says while comparing methods, student users recorded and entered data 50 percent faster and were more accurate while using the app over traditional data-entry methods.

Although there are data entry apps available, and even apps for wildlife biologists, Bateman says this app is the first developed for recording wildlife information with the capability of producing unique codes and querying a database of animal histories stored on a mobile device.

“We are so excited we have found a method that works and that reduces errors,” Bateman said.

Currently, the app is unavailable for download, but Bateman and her team are hoping to collaborate with other teams who would be able to bring this app to the App Store and Google Play.

The full story of Bateman’s app development and findings has been published this week in the Wildlife Society Bulletin.

Written by: Sydney B. Donaldson

Event series at West campus features diverse artists

August 26, 2013

The fall 2013 arts events season at Arizona State University’s West campus, with the theme “,” will feature concerts, plays, nationally known authors and visual art installations. The wide variety of artistic events reflects the rich artistic and cultural life on the West Valley campus, anchored by the interdisciplinary arts and performance (IAP) program in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

“We have planned a diverse selection of events and activities to entertain and enlighten ASU students, faculty and staff, as well as members of our surrounding communities,” said Jeff Kennedy, West campus artistic director and a New College faculty member. m-pact Download Full Image

Details about the season may be found online at, on Facebook @ asuwestevents or by calling the Arts Information line at 602-543-2787. For events with an admission fee, tickets may be purchased at

The fall schedule on the campus, at 4701 W. Thunderbird Road, includes:

Concert: m-pact with Laura Dickinson, featuring special guests Simply Three
7:30 p.m., Sept. 13, University Center Building, La Sala Ballroom
Tickets: $15 general, $10 seniors, $5 students, faculty & staff

Having performed with musicians from Sheryl Crow and Boyz II Men, to Ray Charles and Natalie Cole, m-pact is one of the best pop-jazz vocal groups in the world and a cutting-edge trailblazer in the realm of a cappella vocal music. “Following last year’s sold-out concerts with Pentatonix, it just made sense to host this group whose vocal acrobatics have amazed audiences worldwide,” Kennedy said.

An Evening with Alison Bechdel
7 p.m., Sept. 17, University Center Building, La Sala Ballroom
No admission charge ($2 per hour for visitor parking)

After being a comic strip writer for more than 50 publications, Bechdel gained wider recognition with her ground-breaking graphic memoir “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic,” which was named the Best Book of 2006 by Time magazine. She has drawn comics for Slate, Entertainment Weekly and the New York Times, and was a recipient of a 2012-13 Guggenheim Fellowship. After speaking, Bechdel will take questions from the audience and sign copies of her book.

Calle 16 Mural Project and Fiesta del Oeste! (Fiesta of the West!)
Painting project: Throughout the day, Sept. 30-Oct. 3, Sands Classroom Building Courtyard
Fiesta del Oeste!: 5:30 p.m., Oct. 3, University Center Building Delph Courtyard
No admission charge ($2 per hour for visitor parking)

The Calle 16 Mural Project returns to create a new mural exclusively for ASU’s West campus and painted with the help of our students. Come pick up a brush during the day and help create this unique work designed just for us. Then on Oct. 3 we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with a Fiesta, featuring delicious food for purchase, entertainment by flamenco and mariachi performers, and a chance to see the completed mural in the beautiful Delph Courtyard.

Theatrical performance: “The Exonerated” by Jessica Blank and Eric Jensen

Directed by New College’s Charles St. Clair
7:30 p.m., Oct. 24-26; 3 p.m., Oct. 27
Second Stage West, lower level of University Center Building
Tickets: $10 general, $7 seniors, $5 students, faculty & staff

A co-production with iTheatre Collaborative, this powerful play is a dramatization of the real-life stories of six individuals who were sentenced to death and later freed amidst overwhelming evidence of their innocence. This thought-provoking drama is culled from interviews, letters, transcripts, case files and court records of individuals on death row. Performances will be followed by talk-backs with the audience.

Concert: West Valley Symphony conducted by Cal Stewart Kellogg
7:30 p.m., Nov. 2, University Center Building, La Sala Ballroom
Tickets: $15 general, $10 seniors, $5 students, faculty & staff

This 75-piece ensemble returns to ASU’s West campus with an exciting concert, performing Verdi’s exotic ballet from “Aida,” Wagner’s powerful Prelude and Liebestod from “Tristan and Isolde,” and Britten’s beloved showcase of the instruments of the symphony, his “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.”

ArtSpace West gallery
Located on the second floor of the University Center Building (UCB), room 228
Gallery hours: noon-5 p.m., Monday-Thursday (except school holidays)
Gallery admission is free; parking in the visitor lot is $2 per hour.

The fall schedule is:

"PhxArtCade 2.0"
Sept. 5-Oct. 3
Opening reception: 7 p.m., Sept. 4

IAP faculty member Theresa Devine curates an installation celebrating the art of video games with her own work and from guest artists. These unique games were recently displayed at Phoenix Art Museum for its “The Art of Video Games” exhibition.

Call and Response: "Descending the Staircase"
Oct. 10-31
Opening reception: 6 p.m., Oct. 9

Students and faculty respond artistically to Duchamp’s masterpiece Nude Descending a Staircase, introduced in 1913 at the Armory Show and causing visceral responses to its cubist approach. The exhibit is curated by IAP faculty members Patricia Clark and Arthur Sabatini.

"1913: The Armory Show"
Nov. 6-21
Opening reception: 6 p.m., Nov. 5

Celebrate the centennial of the most important visual art exhibit held on our shores, which introduced to the U.S. the great modern artists of Europe and America, including Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh. IAP faculty member Jeff Kennedy recreates the rooms of the Armory Show with projections and a unique soundtrack that highlights other creations from the Modern era.