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Schneider Electric tech helps restore giant tortoises to the Galapagos islands

May 1, 2018
Listed as vulnerable to extinction by the World Wildlife Fund, the tortoises are being aided by a new heat delivery system to precisely control the temperature in incubators so that tortoise eggs experienced stable development and to produce a higher percentage of females than males
Schneider Electric has partnered with Automated Control Logic on a conservation project to restore Galapagos giant tortoise species to their natural habitat.

According to Schneider, Galapagos giant tortoises are massive herbivores that often reach more than 500 pounds. Before humans arrived on the Galapagos Islands, approximately 250,000 tortoises are thought to have lived there, but today, only an estimated 20,000 survive.The Galapagos National Park Directorate and Galapagos Conservancy started the Galapagos Tortoise Restoration Initiative to restore giant tortoise populations to their historical distribution and numbers. The project is supported by the Roosevelt Wild Life Station.

The gender of a tortoise is determined by the temperature of incubation, with females developing at slightly higher temperatures. In order to restore these species, tortoise experts and Galapagos National Park rangers can greatly speed up the process by collecting eggs from wild nests, and then bringing them into captivity for incubation and rearing until they are of a sufficient size to better survive in the wild at approximately five years old. By controlling the number of eggs incubated at the two temperatures, more female than male tortoises can be produced, which will eventually increase reproduction in the wild once these tortoises reach maturity.

Before enlisting the help of Automated Control Logic, the incubator heat delivery system used in the Galapagos National Park’s Tortoise Centers was a single hair dryer in each incubator, controlled by a thermostat. While successfully used for well over a decade, this is an imprecise way to control the temperature of the incubators, and so the heat delivery system made it difficult to assure the sex of the tortoise hatchlings. Equipment breakdowns could also cause unhealthy temperature fluctuations.

The Galapagos Tortoise Restoration Initiative, through SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY, reached out to Automated Control Logic to redesign its incubator heat delivery system using Schneider technology. Automated Control Logic, a certified EcoXpert BMS partner, was selected as EcoXpert partners are trained and certified on Schneider Electric’s IoT-enabled EcoStruxure architecture and platform. The program’s mission is to connect expertise, ignite growth and enable success for its EcoXpert partner companies.

Automated Control Logic designed a new heat delivery system to precisely control the temperature in the tortoise incubators so that the Galapagos National Park and Galapagos Conservancy personnel could adjust it to ensure that eggs experienced stable development and to produce a higher percentage of females than males.

As part of the final designs, Automated Control Logic used Schneider Electric’s i2-867 controllers that were custom programmed to precisely regulate the incubation temperature, allowing for the most exact incubation controls. The heating system also included back-up heat sources in case of outages, ensuring that the tortoise eggs were protected at all times.

The Galapagos Tortoise Restoration Initiative team now expect that 5,000–10,000 hatchling tortoises will be hatched from these incubators over the next two decades. This will effectively increase the current global population of Galapagos giant tortoises by 25% in just one generation.

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