Although there is no doubt that certain species are capable of detecting small vibrations in the earth or changes in the chemical composition of water - changes that in theory allow it to anticipate natural disasters - science has not been able to decipher the mechanism of this "predictive capacity".
To analyze this phenomenon, an international collaborative project plans to install small transmitters in some migratory groups to examine wildlife from space. The intention is to use these specimens as "smart sensors" to anticipate earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.
The International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space (ICARUS) project, which will be operational this year, will install a special antenna on the Russian module of the International Space Station (ISS) to begin tracking. On several continents, tiny radio tags are being placed on insects, elephants, and other mammals, to transmit data about their movements, geographic position, bodily functions or senses. Added to this are significant indicators of imminent natural disasters.
These sensors, which are powered by solar energy, may help understand disease transmission, climate change, poaching and the ability to predict natural disasters. The data collected will be shared publicly on the MoveBank site, a free online repository for animal tracking research information.
“Although there is a theory that animals are capable of predicting natural disasters, obtaining scientific evidence of this is not easy. However, numerous examples of behaviors that seem to predict earthquakes, tornadoes and other natural situations can be found that are expressed by different taxa.
This is because animals must adapt to the constantly changing environment by expressing their heightened senses. Some reptiles, for example, can detect tiny variations in the temperature or chemical composition of the water, which alert them when their natural habitat changes.
Some birds such as albatrosses, or also sharks and even domestic animals can detect changes in atmospheric pressure, perceive changes in air quality, deformations in the ground, or micro-tremors ”explains Verónica D'Amico, PhD in Biology specialist in climate change, researcher at Conicet.