Please read the instructions carefully before starting sampling.
When you first receive the equipment, prepare it before going into the field by following the Getting Started Manual. Download the manual from the "Manuals" section below.
When you set up your field site, follow the steps in the "Field setup" section below.
For weekly sampling, there are instructions under each method as separate sections below.
For data uploading after sampling, follow the steps in the Software User Manual. Download the manual from the "Manuals" section below.
For shipping physical samples after sampling, follow the steps in "Shipping soil and cyclone samples" and "Shipping Malaise samples".
There is a technical troubleshooting section at the bottom of the page.
Download Getting Started Manual (pdf) Version 6 updated October 18 2022
Download Software User Guide (pdf) Version 8 updated August 22 2022
Download Software User Guide en Espanol (pdf) Version 7 updated Jan 11 2022
All the metadata for the samples is collected via the Lifeplan app. The app requires the use of a smartphone in the field. For more information and detailed instructions please download the software manual from the Manuals section above.
The audio recorders have to have their date and time settings reset each week using an app. Install the free AudioMoth app by Open Acoustic Devices on your phone, available on App Store and Play Store. It will enable you to set the correct UTC time on the AudioMoths in the field by playing a chime.
When you receive all the equipment, perform the steps in the Getting Started Manual, which you can download in the Manuals section above.
Select a place that:
The sampler comes with crocodile grips for connecting to a 12 V car battery.
If you have a long travel time to the site and need to reduce the number of weekly visits, you can
If you need a timer or to discuss taking only one sample a week, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The trap design depends on insects moving towards the highest and lightest part of the trap. The trap should be placed near the center of the one-hectare sampling plot. When mounting, make sure that the collecting part of the trap (i.e. the trap head) is directed towards the equator (north in the Southern hemisphere and south in the Northern hemisphere). Also make sure that the collecting part is the highest part of the trap, so avoid placing the trap on a downhill slope with the collecting part lowest. When possible, position the trap at a right angle to an insect flight line, in areas with low undergrowth; forest edges or clearings and elevated sites are recommended.
Consider possibilities of wildlife disturbance and/or human vandalism; the trap may be relocated if consistent issues persist after deployment. Ensure that all proper specimen collecting permissions are obtained (i.e. from local authorities, property owners, etc.).
There is a video instruction to set up the malaise trap at the left of this section.
After arriving at your field site, assemble the trap securely, according to the Malaise trap instruction sheet. When possible, tie the front and/or back ropes to nearby trees for added support.
In case of high winds, attach the trap poles to a 6- to 8-foot stake or post at its highest points to protect the trap against falling over from high winds.
Attach the QR code sticker to the tent pole.
Use the Lifeplan app to place the bottle. Tightly affix the prepared collection bottle to the trap head; cover the bottle with foil, tie the white ropes on the trap around the bottle to secure it. Begin the collection on a day of the week you can consistently return to for the duration of the sampling period.
It is critical that we employ standardized operating procedures for the Malaise trapping. Our coordinated efforts will ensure specimen preservation for sequence analysis and high data quality, permitting the comparison of sites at a global scale. For global standardization with the BIOSCAN initiative, of which LIFEPLAN is a part, we have adopted all the same basic protocols as used in the Global Malaise Program. LIFEPLAN will be based on bulk processing (metabarcoding) of samples.
Four camera traps will be set up in each corner of your one-hectare plot, and one in the middle of the plot. An accuracy of about 10 meters is fine. The camera traps will be mounted on trees. If there are no suitable trees, please put up sturdy posts (e.g. tree posts used for fences or similar). The tree/post should be sturdy enough to withstand weather and not sway in windy conditions (this might trigger the camera).
Mount the cameras at a height of 0.5 metres from the ground. If there is snow, move the camera up or down accordingly so it starts each week 0.5 m above the snow. If needed, cut down vegetation in front of the camera to give visibility and to reduce false triggering by vegetation moving in the wind. If you feel this camera height is impossible at your location, contact email@example.com to work out a solution.
Use the mounting strap to mount the camera to the tree. If your site is insecure and prone to theft, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can supply Python cables for added security. The camera traps should be faced north in the northern hemisphere and south in the southern hemisphere to avoid glare from the sun. Try to choose a place with the least amount of obscuring vegetation, and don't point the center camera at the cyclone sampler and Malaise trap.
When you have found a good spot, set up the camera with the LIFEPLAN pre-settings (with the Night Mode change listed in the Getting Started manual). The camera trap should be perpendicular to the ground in front of the camera. This will mean a bit of extra work if the tree is on a slope, as the camera will need to be angled either upwards or downwards (down is better, to avoid glare). This can be done with sticks or stones that are found at the site. When you have deployed the camera trap, note down for yourself where the camera trap is positioned so you easily find it again. Make a note if there are any interesting features in the immediate area that might affect detection (for example game trails). Once the camera is running with fresh batteries and memory cards, secure the latch with a cable tie to prevent tampering.
Please put up appropriate signage by the camera traps according to local legislation. The signage may depend on whether you are on private property or a public place.
Good things to keep in mind:
To start sampling for the first time:
Before going in the field, follow the steps in the Getting Started Manual.
LIFEPLAN Audiomoth firmware zip file: download and unzip to update Audiomoth
Attach the five audio recorders to the same trees as the five camera traps, but higher up. Four recorders should be at the four corners of your one-hectare plot, and one in the middle of the plot. An accuracy of about 10 meters is fine. If there are no trees, please put up sturdy posts where they can be mounted at about 1 or 2 meter height.
Please put up appropriate signage by the recorders according to local legislation. Appropriate signage will likely depend on whether you are on private property or in a public space. Note that legislation for audio recording is more strict than for cameras in many countries.
To start the first recording,
(The weekdays do not have to be exactly Monday-Wednesday, as long as they are the same three consecutive days every week.)
On Monday morning: bring a fully charged 12 V car battery and one vial.
Using the LIFEPLAN app, place the first vial of the week: Remove and open the cyclone unit. Wearing a glove, screw in the empty vial you just scanned. Store the cap safely. Reassemble and replace the cyclone unit. Connect the battery and listen for the vacuum pump running.
24 hours later: bring another fully charged 12 V car battery and another vial. Disconnect the old battery. Using the app, collect the first sample: Remove and open the cyclone unit. wearing a glove, remove and close the first vial. Take care to use its original lid.
Use the app again to place the second vial. Wearing a glove, screw in the empty vial you just scanned. Store the new cap safely. Reassemble and replace the cyclone unit. Connect the new battery and listen for the vacuum pump running. Take the old battery with you for recharging.
Another 24 hours later, disconnect the battery. Remove and open the cyclone unit. Using the app, collect the second vial: Remove and open the cyclone unit. wearing a glove, remove and close the second vial. Take care to use its original lid.
In addition, the car battery providing the energy for the sampler needs to be charged between Wednesday and Monday.
Place a coloured dot sticker or make a cross with a marker onto the second sample of the week.
The collected vials should be stored in a freezer or refrigerator. If you notice the labels are becoming loose, please tape them carefully.
Shipping: see section "Shipping soil and cyclone samples".
Troubleshooting: see "Troubleshooting" at the bottom of this page.
Fill one collection bottle 3 / 5 full (~300ml) with 95% ethanol at the time of deployment. Do not substitute with other kinds of alcohol or other preservatives. If possible, wrap the bottle in aluminium foil to protect from the sun. If you find in the following weeks that the ethanol tends to evaporate, increase the amount. If you get so much insect mass that the bottle overflows, decrease the amount.
Use the LIFEPLAN app to collect the catch once a week during the insect activity period (i.e. during non-freezing temperatures). Remove the catch on the same day each week. When collecting the previous sample, wipe the trap head with a clean paper towel, to avoid dead insects from remaining between weeks. Use the LIFEPLAN app to place a new malaise bottle, screw on the new bottle, cover it with foil and tie the ropes around the bottle.
Carry out a weekly check of the malaise trap. In particular, check it after strong winds or heavy rain. In the event of damage, malfunction or other concerns contact email@example.com for maintenance suggestions and replacement parts.
When in the field, store the sample in a shaded cooler, shielded from light. When back from the field, ideally, place the samples in a standard household freezer (i.e. -20°C) for storage. Ensure that the entire insect mass is fully submerged in ethanol before storage; add fresh ethanol to the sample bottle if needed.
If a freezer is unavailable, store the samples in a refrigerator or cool, dark location. This is critical to preserve the DNA in the samples; improper storage will result in DNA degradation rendering samples unusable for DNA sequencing (e.g. under constant light, heat or variable temperatures).
Shipment: see section "Shipping Malaise samples"
Download current version of Lifeplan Audiomoth firmware "audiomoth_lifeplan_0_1_2" here (link to Onedrive folder containing zip file)
Refer to the Getting started Manual for detailed instructions for how to install the audiomoth firmware.
The audio recorders will be pre-programmed by a CONFIG file on the microSD card to record at set periods. The middle recorder will record at bird frequencies continuously for two days a week and then 1 minute in every ten minutes, while the recorders at the corners will record at bird frequencies for 1 minute every 10 minutes and listen for bats in between. Mark the cards that will be used for the middle AudioMoth with a red dot.
Download the config files:
CONFIG CORNER. Download and rename "CONFIG" to use on corner recorders. Version May 28 2021
CONFIG MIDDLE. Download and rename "CONFIG" to use on middle recorder (red dot). Version May 28 2021
Rename the files so that they are both called "CONFIG".
At each audio recorder:
- switch to DEFAULT mode, the green light should blink
10. Put the recorder back in its case and mount in place.
When you return from the field, upload the data to us, format the cards and put the correct CONFIG files on the cards. Follow the steps in "Chapter 4: Upload photos and audio files" in our Software User Manual, which can be downloaded from "Manuals" section of this page.
Download the general user manual for Lifeplan cameras (pdf)
Make sure you have enough charged batteries for all the cameras, and that you have a system in place to separate empty batteries from the charged ones. When arriving at a camera, do a quick scan of the camera and the area to check if anything is out of the ordinary. You will be able to note down any anomalies in the LIFEPLAN app (for example if the camera is facing in the wrong direction or is lying on the ground).
At each site, you should take soil samples four times a year. The four sampling events should be distributed evenly over the entire plant growing season. Thus, in the Arctic region, the sampling times will be distributed along the few months of plant growth (i.e. the snow-free season), whereas in tropical regions the sampling times will be distributed over the whole year.
Four times a year, take five compound soil samples, one from the center of the plot and one from each corner, around where the cameras and audio recorders are. Each compound sample is made up of three cores.
To avoid contaminating and cross-contaminating the samples, wear disposable gloves (or plastic bags over your hands) and change them each time when handling soil from a different point. Clean the tools with ethanol or flame between the sampling points.
The soil samples are taken using a spoon and a knife/garden spade depending on the terrain. (If very rocky, then a trowel may be the easiest way to gather sufficient free soil. If turfy/boggy/generally soft then a sharp knife works well.)
Steps in the field:
Drying the samples:
Once you have closed the paper bag that contains the soil, you can place it in the ziplock that contains orange silica. Flatten the bag a bit to remove some of the air before sealing it. When the silica turns blue, reopen the bag and swap out the blue silica for orange silica. Repeat this every few hours until the silica remains orange. How long this will take will depend a lot on how humid your soil and environment is. Once the silica is mostly orange, the sample can be placed in the freezer. It is good to leave a bit of silica beads to make sure the environment remains dry. The used silica can be dried and re-used for other samples. To dry silica, the best way is to bake in an oven at 100 degrees celsius until it turns orange again. It takes a few hours, check periodically.
Shipping: see the next section.
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Department of Ecology
Ulls väg 18 B
Phone: (+46) 018671912
Jayme Sones - Sample Submission
University of Guelph
Biodiversity Institute of Ontario
50 Stone Road East
Phone: 519-824-4120 x56393
Many cyclone sampler issues are caused by screws having come loose during transportation. If yours is making a lot of noise or is otherwise not working right, try opening it up and looking for loose screws.
Cyclone sampler not working after wrong wire touched the wrong thing:
Try to first rule out the battery and timer as the cause. Try running the sampler without the timer, and then with a new battery. If the sampler itself is still not working, contact us and we will start arranging a fix or replacement.
Cyclone sampler not turning
Unscrew the two grey plastic covers on each site of the axle and carefully remove the axle. Check both ball bearings for water damage and rust. Add engine grease to both ball bearings.
Put the cyclone sampler back together.
Audiomoth not recognizing clock setting chime:
This can be either a software glitch or an issue with the microphone. To rule out a software glitch, try reinstalling the new LIFEPLAN firmware (download from the section "Field site setup"), then try the chime again. If that doesn’t work, contact us and we will send you a replacement Audiomoth.
Audiomoth flashing green and red light after firmware update, possible causes and fixes:
Unfortunately due to the large variety of operating systems, local IT department restrictions etc., we are not able to troubleshoot all Nextcloud local client issues. If you have an IT department please contact them, or try the Nextcloud user manual or support forums. If you still need to ask us for help, please include information about your operating system, and whether you have full administrator rights to the computer or are restricted in some way by your IT department. Screenshots of the problem are helpful.