Rugged handheld computers from Juniper Systems are being used to help protect native species of fish in rivers in the US. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is managing an invasive fish removal programme.
Using a Juniper handheld device loaded with custom fisheries software, field scientists monitored native fish species and removed invasive fish along the Green River, near scenic Dinosaur National Monument.
The field crew’s work involved what is called boat electrofishing, in which the researchers ride along in a boat with electrodes protruding into the water. The electrodes send out an electrical current, temporarily stunning the fish, which subsequently float to the surface, where they are netted and inspected.
The researchers collect data about each fish before either returning it to the water, in the case of native species, or removing it from the river, in the case of invasive species. This programme was implemented because of the detrimental effects invasive fish species can have on local ecosystems.
The Utah DWR field crew previously collected data using pen and paper, but made the switch to the Juniper device after seeing its numerous benefits, including its full alpha-numeric keyboard; which allowed for very rapid, very accurate data entry. Other benefits included extreme ruggedness, sunlight-readable display, integrated GPS, and RFID compatibility.
They even found the handheld could float—an additional bonus. The researchers used the device with custom fisheries software, (also available through Juniper Systems) which allowed for custom fields and required entries in order to improve data integrity. They experienced significant improvement with the new data collection process.
Joe Skorupski, native aquatics biologist at the Utah DWR, said: “The fisheries software greatly reduced the data entry time to the point where it has already paid for itself. Last year with three people, we took over 200 hours to enter, verify, and manipulate data.
“This year, it took one person 20 hours and errors were non-existent due to the software and new data collection process. I could go on and on about all the great improvements due to the handheld and the software.”
The data collected by the field crew will enter a large repository which is used by biologists to assist with management and policy decisions, fish regulations, and fisheries research.
Juniper Systems is based out of Utah, USA and Birmingham, UK. It has designed and manufactured rugged handheld computers and provided field data collection solutions for use in extreme environments since 1993.