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RSPB deploys SAS tools to protect endangered species

The society throws Big Data into SAS to find the best way to save at-risk birds

The RSPB is using Big Data analysis tools to better understand the threats to endangered birds.

The society collects vast amounts of data each year on species facing extinction, relying on scientific research and data analysis to find the best ways to protect them.

For instance, researchers conduct diagnostic studies to explore the reasons behind population decline but require the software to find patterns in the results.

The organisation's head of research delivery, Will Peach, said: "We need to make sense of a variety of large and complex data sets. For example, tracking the movements of kittiwakes and gannets as they forage at sea produces millions of data points.

"SAS enables us to produce the firm scientific evidence needed to confidently implement our initiatives."

The company's analytics helped the society merge datasets on yellowhammer and skylark nesting success with pesticide use and agriculture cropping patterns to judge the consequences for the birds.

RSPB also turned to SAS to explore how albatross forage across the Southern Ocean.

With large-scale commercial longline fishing killing tens of thousands of albatrosses a year, the goal was to cut down on the death rate and protect the 17 albatross species currently at risk.

The society took data from tags worn by the birds, merging it with external data sets like sea-surface temperatures and the location of fishing grounds.

Peach said: "SAS is always ahead of the game in its adoption of the latest cutting-edge statistical techniques. As such, going forward, SAS will undoubtedly continue to be integral in our pursuit of evidence-based conservation actions needed to help save our birds and wildlife."

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