Chris Corben



My prime interests are in technology and wildlife, and especially where these fields meet. I got into birds when I was about 7, and birding is still one of my main interests. I got into frogs, then bats, then odonates, but have also dabbled in butterflies, various mammals, reptiles and even freshwater crayfish. I grew up and have lived most of my life in Australia, mostly Melbourne and Brisbane.

I've always been into physics, especially electronics and computers, and I've dabbled in astronomy. When I got into bats, this enabled me to combine my interests in electronics/computing with wildlife, since the use of electronic instruments has great value in studying bats, which are otherwise rather inaccessible to normal people. I designed a bat-detector, which enabled me to listen in to ultrasonic bat echolocation calls, but then realised that while I could detect the presence of bats, I didn't have a clue what they were. So I then designed software and other hardware to draw pictures of the bat calls on a computer screen. That way I could see more detail in the bat calls, and have some chance of knowing what species I was dealing with.

Bat researchers had long used other methods for looking at bat calls, but their methods were generally very expensive, bulky and slow to use, and often suffered from calibration problems. I wanted something faster, easier to use and less expensive, so other people who were interested in bats could get access to it. Bats are fantastic animals, but amongst the hardest of all living things to study, and it seemed a shame that the very useful field of bat acoustics was essentially restricted to an elite few with large budgets. There was a lot of interest, so I convinced David Titley to develop the system as a commercial product. I wasn't interested in getting into that side of it myself. The system became known as Anabat. I'm often asked where the name came from, but it's just that I needed a name for the software files so I called them Anabat, as a combination from "analyse a bat call", and it stuck.

I have lived in North America since 1992. Since moving to the USA I have been heavily involved with bats and bat detectors there and elsewhere. I made my first trip to Europe in 2005 and have been back there many times.  

The bat detector scene has changed a lot in recent years! There is now a much greater variety of bat-detectors available, and the technology has changed dramatically with a number of new players in the field. Despite the obvious rise to prominence of full-spectrum detectors, I am still a strong advocate of the zero-crossings techniques pioneered by Anabat. Both systems have their pros and cons, and neither is going to go away!

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