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A panel told the AAAS conference that radar could spot a single bee at 50km.
Further improvements to the technique must be made before that level of resolution can be reached, however; now it is the storms that are complicating the signals that interest biologists.
But pioneer of the "aeroecology" field, Thomas Kunz, of Boston University, told the conference why radar is needed.
"One of the limitations we have in working with small animals like birds and bats and insects is that you can't put large satellite radio transmitters on them to understand their movements.
So the whole concept of aeroecology is an integrated approach using many different tools to try to answer the questions about how organisms move and use the aerosphere."