Article

Proper flight technique for using a small rotary-winged drone aircraft to safely, quickly, and accurately survey raptor nests

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Abstract

Small rotary-winged unmanned aerial vehicles or “drones” mounted with a small video camera were successful in surveying the nest contents of four species of raptor, including Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis), and Red-tailed Hawk (B. jamaicensis) in an accurate and safe manner when the proper flight technique was employed. A total of 110 surveys were completed in 2013 and 2014 with quality images of nest contents obtained in 106 or (96.4%) of flights. A successful and safe flight requires two personnel: the pilot who controls the aircraft and the spotter who monitors the behaviour of the adult birds defending the nest and keeps the pilot updated on all potentially dangerous interactions between aircraft and the birds. With the video camera recording, the aircraft is flown above the nest to a predetermined location that allows an unobscured camera shot of the nest. This technique can be readily adapted to a variety of habitat types and speci...

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... In order to develop nest surveys with the drone and to record adults´behavior during them, two people were necessary: a pilot, in charge of assembling the aircraft, bringing it to the launch site, flying, controlling the camera, disassembling and carrying the aircraft back to the car, and a spotter, responsible for recording eaglesb ehavior during the survey (Junda et al., 2015). We divided nest surveys into three stages: approach, flight, and withdraw. ...
... Then, during flight stage, drone took off, reached a height that surpassed in 5-10 m the height of the tree supporting the nest and started flying over the nest (Fig. 2), attempting to capture an image of the content of it (close-up flight: . In no case the drone flew within less than 3 meters above and 5 meters of the nest (Junda, Greene & Bird, 2015;Vas et al., 2015) and mean speed when approaching was 5 m/sec. When the aircraft landed, we started withdraw stage, which ended when we left from the place with the car and stopped watching the nest. ...
... First of all, nest monitoring with drones was as accurate and almost three times faster when compared to traditional climbing, a fact which is in accordance with other studies on tree-nesting species (Junda et al., 2015;Weissensteiner et al., 2015). The usage of a drone for continuously monitoring breeding populations (i.e. ...
Article
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Abstract In birds, obtaining information related to nest occupancy, offspring status or breeding success is essential for population monitoring, particularly for species of conservation concern. Traditionally, nest monitoring demands a lot of time and effort in order to gather accurate information and avoiding nest disturbance. Instead, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, hereafter drones) present an alternative to traditional methods, but few studies have been done measuring their influence on birds’ behavior and reproductive success. We addressed the utility of drones equipped with an on‐board camera in examining nesting status of the endangered Chaco Eagle Buteogallus coronatus in semiarid environments of central Argentina, as well as the degree of disturbance of drone flights to individuals. We performed 76 drone flights at 41 Chaco Eagle nests registering flight duration, tree height, nest relative height and pilot proximity to nest. Of those, 38 flights were done over occupied nests where we recorded adult behavior. Before drone took off, most adult eagles remained in the nests or in the surroundings (
... Regarding applications of drone-based technology to general ecological studies, current evidence suggests that such studies are more effective than studies based on human appraisal or image-based technology with coarser resolution (Junda et al. 2015;Campbell, 2018). However, few studies tested this hypothesis on large raptors, focusing on smaller birds or large mammals. ...
... These findings indicated "the increased accuracy and increased precision of RPA-derived wildlife monitoring data provides greater statistical power to detect fine-scale population fluctuations allowing for more informed and proactive ecological management" (Hodgson et al. (2018(Hodgson et al. ( , 1160. Junda et al. (2015) give the example of small rotary-winged drones which mount small video cameras to record the nest contents of ospreys (Pandion haliaetus, Linnaeus, 1758), Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Linnaeus, 1766), Ferruginous hawks (Buteo regalis, Gray, 1844) and Red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis, Gmelin, 1788). These surveys were successful, with 96.4% of flights yielding suitable images. ...
... Junda et al. (2015, 222) note that "the accuracy of data obtained combined with the flexibility, low cost and speed of this technique make it a useful technological alternative to the safety risks and obtrusiveness associated with traditional survey techniques." Drone/bird conflicts, which were mooted as a possibility in the study by Junda et al. (2015) have been examined elsewhere. Drones may have negative impacts (fear, flight, distraction, defensive and proactive aggression) on the animals they are designed to study (Ditmer et al. 2015). ...
Chapter
ABSTRACT This article examines progress in drone-based research methods applied to animal ecology, in terms of applications to the field study of large birds of prey (raptors). Drone-based research methods have evolved out of the larger technological field of geomatics and are entwined with developments in GPS and biotelemetry, which enable accurate location recording, image capture and specimen behavioral assessment. Current evidence indicates that drone-based data gathering methods derive more accurate information than older research methods (including human observation and even high-resolution image-based studies). Large raptors are important subjects for drone-based studies due to their visibility to human eyesight and cameras, fast flight, remote nesting locations, large, trackable prey, conflicts with people (killing of livestock and companion animals, collisions with aircraft), low population densities and migratory habits that may require highly mobile observation machines. Measurable avian parameters for drones include migration patterns (sometimes inter-hemispheric/ continental) foraging (flight speeds, soaring duration, hunting flight patterns, sometimes of over hundreds of square kilometers), nesting habits (including fledgling behavior), courtship, roosting, plumage identification, individual behaviors and aggressive tendencies. Emerging issues concern subject bird perceptions and negative reactions to drones, including avoidance and aggressive attacks on machines. The future of drone-assisted studies is dependent on more effective technology, especially lighter, quieter, less intrusive, more elusive drone structures. This makes an important contribution to raptor ecology.
... Regarding applications of drone-based technology to general ecological studies, current evidence suggests that such studies are more effective than studies based on human appraisal or image-based technology with coarser resolution (Junda et al. 2015;Campbell, 2018). However, few studies tested this hypothesis on large raptors, focusing on smaller birds or large mammals. ...
... These findings indicated "the increased accuracy and increased precision of RPA-derived wildlife monitoring data provides greater statistical power to detect fine-scale population fluctuations allowing for more informed and proactive ecological management" (Hodgson et al. (2018(Hodgson et al. ( , 1160. Junda et al. (2015) give the example of small rotary-winged drones which mount small video cameras to record the nest contents of ospreys (Pandion haliaetus, Linnaeus, 1758), Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Linnaeus, 1766), Ferruginous hawks (Buteo regalis, Gray, 1844) and Red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis, Gmelin, 1788). These surveys were successful, with 96.4% of flights yielding suitable images. ...
... Junda et al. (2015, 222) note that "the accuracy of data obtained combined with the flexibility, low cost and speed of this technique make it a useful technological alternative to the safety risks and obtrusiveness associated with traditional survey techniques." Drone/bird conflicts, which were mooted as a possibility in the study by Junda et al. (2015) have been examined elsewhere. Drones may have negative impacts (fear, flight, distraction, defensive and proactive aggression) on the animals they are designed to study (Ditmer et al. 2015). ...
Chapter
Our current understanding of the communities and taxonomic assemblages has, in recent years, integrated processes at different spatial scales. Four species of closely-related Iguanian lizards coexist along the length of the pampean coastal sand dunes of Argentina in assemblages with different combinations that vary from two to four species, according to the locality. Our work examines community organization and species coexistence of these assemblages at two scales; at the local scale, we review and compare the use of biotic and abiotic resources by sand–dwelling lizards of two assemblages of the Southern Dune Barrier focusing on the space, time and food niche dimensions of the species. At regional scale, we examine habitat selection of the most recurrent and spread sand lizards along the whole eastern barriers. Sampling included counts of individuals in random walks searching for habitat and microhabitat occupation, registration of environmental variables (i.e., substrate and air temperatures; dominant, height and cover of vegetation, and substrate composition), temporal daily activity and foraging habits of lizards. At regional scale, we evaluate the relationships between lizards’ presence/absence and the percentage of associated cover of the main groups of plants and bare sand. Results show that the wide spatial (habitat and microhabitat) segregation at local sites, associated to species traits, is meaningful relative to species coexistence, whereas the outcomes in the food and time niche dimensions are less explicative. At regional scale, the opposite distribution between the Sand Lizard (Liolaemus multimaculatus) in active dunes with higher cover of clump herbs and bare sand, and the Wiegmann’s Lizard (Liolaemus wiegmannii) mainly in semi-fixed dunes whit higher cover of shrubs and sub-shrubs, is also a common pattern that leads to coexistence at regional scale. In coastal sand dunes, the influence of salt spray, temperature and sand movement creates an environmental gradient from coast to inland, which seems to primarily control community organization, as in other places of the world. In Argentina, lizards of the eastern coastal sand dunes of Buenos Aires segregate in different structural habitats and microhabitats of this environmental gradient, sustaining the structure of these lizard assemblages and arising as a trade-off for species’ coexistence at two spatial scales.
... Regarding applications of drone-based technology to general ecological studies, current evidence suggests that such studies are more effective than studies based on human appraisal or image-based technology with coarser resolution (Junda et al. 2015;Campbell, 2018). However, few studies tested this hypothesis on large raptors, focusing on smaller birds or large mammals. ...
... These findings indicated "the increased accuracy and increased precision of RPA-derived wildlife monitoring data provides greater statistical power to detect fine-scale population fluctuations allowing for more informed and proactive ecological management" (Hodgson et al. (2018(Hodgson et al. ( , 1160. Junda et al. (2015) give the example of small rotary-winged drones which mount small video cameras to record the nest contents of ospreys (Pandion haliaetus, Linnaeus, 1758), Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Linnaeus, 1766), Ferruginous hawks (Buteo regalis, Gray, 1844) and Red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis, Gmelin, 1788). These surveys were successful, with 96.4% of flights yielding suitable images. ...
... Junda et al. (2015, 222) note that "the accuracy of data obtained combined with the flexibility, low cost and speed of this technique make it a useful technological alternative to the safety risks and obtrusiveness associated with traditional survey techniques." Drone/bird conflicts, which were mooted as a possibility in the study by Junda et al. (2015) have been examined elsewhere. Drones may have negative impacts (fear, flight, distraction, defensive and proactive aggression) on the animals they are designed to study (Ditmer et al. 2015). ...
Book
This article examines progress in drone-based research methods applied to animal ecology, in terms of applications to the field study of large birds of prey (raptors). Drone-based research methods have evolved out of the larger technological field of geomatics and are entwined with developments in GPS and biotelemetry, which enable accurate location recording, image capture, and specimen behavioral assessment. Current evidence indicates that drone-based data gathering methods derive more accurate information than older research methods (including human observation and even high-resolution image-based studies). Large raptors are important subjects for drone-based studies due to their visibility to human eyesight and cameras, fast flight, remote nesting locations, large, trackable prey, conflicts with people (killing of livestock and companion animals, collisions with aircraft), low population densities, and migratory habits that may require highly mobile observation machines. Measurable avian parameters for drones include migration patterns (sometimes interhemispheric/ continental) foraging (flight speeds, soaring duration, hunting flight patterns, sometimes of over hundreds of square kilometers), nesting habits (including fledgling behavior), courtship, roosting, plumage identification, individual behaviors, and aggressive tendencies. Emerging issues concern subject bird perceptions and negative reactions to drones, including avoidance and aggressive attacks on machines. The future of drone-assisted studies is dependent on more effective technology, especially lighter, quieter, less intrusive, more elusive drone structures. This makes an important contribution to raptor ecology.
... For example, Dwyer and Tincher (2018) used UAS to assess and quantify risk of entanglement in synthetic baling twine in osprey (Pandion haliaetus) nests. The usefulness of UAS in quickly and efficiently surveying raptor nests (Junda et al. 2015(Junda et al. , 2016 is positive, but passive. That is, the UAS is simply a flying camera used to identify occupancy, productivity, or a potential danger, but not to actively resolve conservation concerns or potential dangers in any way. ...
... To avoid disturbing nesting raptors, we conducted our study after young had fledged and the adults had left the area. If surveying nest contents were also part of our mission, we would have followed recommendations in Junda et al. (2015Junda et al. ( , 2016 where raptor behaviors in response to an approaching UAS are described. ...
Article
Full-text available
Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) can be safer, less expensive, and less labor intensive than manned aircraft in wildlife conservation programs. Consequently, the use of UAS is increasing, but other than installation of line markers to reduce avian collision with power lines, UAS approaches generally involve passive observations. We wondered if UAS could more actively help guide conservation decision-making, so we used UAS-sourced photographs to create 3D models of cliffs to conduct viewshed-based assessments of potential disturbance to nesting raptors by recreational rock climbing. At Cathedral Spires Park and Clear Creek Canyon Park in Jefferson County, Colo., we collected 4790 photographs from which we constructed 3D models. We identified climbing routes and climbing areas with potential to disturb nesting Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus) and Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos). Our findings were useful in providing Jefferson County Open Space (JCOS) with quantitative data so that informed defensible resource management decisions could be made. This project provides an example of how UAS can be used to actively create products useful in wildlife conservation and management and, given the widespread and increasing popularity of rock climbing globally, likely can be generalized to other areas worldwide where rock climbers and nesting raptors share cliffs.
... This is an example that the use of UAV can be complementary to other research methods. Junda et al. (2015) studied nests of four species of birds of prey: Pandion haliaetus (osprey), Haliaeetus leucocephalus (bald eagle), Buteo regalis (ferruginous hawk) and Buteo jamaicensis (red-tailed hawk) in Montana, USA, and Saskatchewan, Canada. The authors used rotor-based UAV with GoPro cameras for recording videos and capturing photos of nests. ...
... There are cases that documented the interaction of UAVs and animals, mainly by modifying their behaviour by a flying drone. In most research on wildlife, the impact on animals was not observed, but some studies confirmed that mammals (Ditmer et al., 2015;Pomeroy et al., 2015) and birds (Weissensteiner et al., 2015;Vas et al., 2015;Junda et al., 2015;Chabot et al., 2015b) show signs of disturbance; however, those might not be seen externally by an observer. Thus, when planning such surveys, we need to consider whether our research won't cause more harm than good to animal species. ...
Article
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Acquiring information about the environment is a key step during each study in the field of environmental biology at different levels, from an individual, species to community and biome. However, obtaining information about the environment is frequently difficult due to, for example, the phenological timing, spatial distribution of a species or limited accessibility of particular area for the field survey. Moreover, remote sensing technology, which enables the observation of the Earth's surface and is currently very common in environmental research, has many limitations such as, insufficient spatial, spectral and temporal resolution, and a high cost of data acquisition. Since the 1990s, researchers are exploring the potential of different types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for monitoring Earth's surface. The present study reviews recent scientific literature dealing with the use of UAV in environmental biology. Among numerous papers, short communications and conference abstracts we selected 110 original studies of how UAVs can be used in environmental biology and which organisms can be studied in this manner. Most of these studies concerned the use of UAV to measure the vegetation parameters such as crown height, volume, number of individuals (14) and to quantify the spatio-temporal dynamics of vegetation changes (12). UAVs were also frequently applied to count birds and mammals, especially those living in the water. Generally, the analytical part of the present study was divided into following chapters: (1) detecting, assessing and predicting threats on vegetation, (2) measuring the biophysical parameters of plants/vegetation, (3) quantifying the dynamics of changes in plants and habitats, (4) population and behaviour studies of animals. At the end, we also synthesised all the information showing, among others, the advances in environmental biology due to UAV application. Considering that 33% of studies found and included in this review was published in 2017 and 2018, it is expected that the number and variety of applications of UAVs in environmental biology will increase in the future.
... Birds at some distance from the nest did not respond. Junda et al. (2015) found no effect of a RPAS within a flight height of 3-6 m, as most birds had flown away earlier, when the nest had been approached by researchers on foot. McClelland et al. (2016) found no indications of disturbance during their monitoring of Tristan albatross. ...
... Breeding birds RPAS have been widely used to monitor and collect information on number of nests and breeding pairs (Potapov et al. 2013, Junda et al. 2015, Weissensteiner et al. 2015, Muller et al. 2019, Valle & Scarton 2019, colonies (Sardà-Palomera et al. 2012, 2017, Ratcliffe et al. 2015, Diaz-Delgado et al. 2017, Hodgson et al. 2018, Rush et al. 2018, Spaans et al. 2018, Pfeifer et al. 2019), breeding populations (Afán et al. 2018, McClelland et al. 2016, Marinov et al. 2016, Pöysä et al. 2018) and breeding habitat and habitat selection (Rodriguez et al. 2012, Chabot et al. 2014, Kamm & Reed 2019. Data on breeding status, number of offspring and age of birds was all successfully collected. ...
Conference Paper
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By performing a literature review, we explore potential disturbing effects of flying with drones on wildlife but also the opportunities for wildlife research with drones. We found 223 publications relating to drone usage. Disturbance effects were primarily found in birds and marine mammals (when on land). Opportunities are manyfold, and drones are regularly used in innovative research. Rotor drones are most often used in bird research but fixed-wing drones were regularly used especially in vegetation and mammal research. Apart from drone-based research focused on vegetation and habitat, birds and mammals, several studies were found in which reptiles, fish or insects were object of study.
... Remotely sensed capabilities of drones offer a less invasive, non-hazardous, repetitive and reliable monitoring technique [47] to collect species abundance and distribution, document wildlife behavior, life-history and health status. Recent examples target terrestrial mammals [48][49][50]; marine mammals [51][52][53][54][55]; birds [11,[56][57][58][59][60]; reptiles [15,[61][62][63][64]; and fish [65,66]. Most surveys opted for both optical and thermal cameras, the latter especially appropriate to sense elusive species overnight, when the temperature differences between the animal body and the environment are greater [67]. ...
... Some authors have reported disturbance effects of drones on birds [57,[205][206][207][208][209], reptiles [210] and mammals [211][212][213]. Despite a greater degree of awareness reflected in a emergent set of guidelines to minimize the impacts on wildlife [35,56,214,215], most studies marginally inform reactions and further trials aimed at quantifying changes in behavioral patterns and physiological effects targeting a broader group of species is recommended. An optimal trade-off between benefits and environmental costs should be weighed [216,217]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Park managers call for cost-effective and innovative solutions to handle a wide variety of environmental problems that threaten biodiversity in protected areas. Recently, drones have been called upon to revolutionize conservation and hold great potential to evolve and raise better-informed decisions to assist management. Despite great expectations, the benefits that drones could bring to foster effectiveness remain fundamentally unexplored. To address this gap, we performed a literature review about the use of drones in conservation. We selected a total of 256 studies, of which 99 were carried out in protected areas. We classified the studies in five distinct areas of applications: “wildlife monitoring and management”; “ecosystem monitoring”; “law enforcement”; “ecotourism”; and “environmental management and disaster response”. We also identified specific gaps and challenges that would allow for the expansion of critical research or monitoring. Our results support the evidence that drones hold merits to serve conservation actions and reinforce effective management, but multidisciplinary research must resolve the operational and analytical shortcomings that undermine the prospects for drones integration in protected areas.
... In addition, in some studies drone use was reported to reduce disturbance to breeding birds compared to traditional ground counts Lyons et al. 2019), whereas in other studies it was found to increase disturbance (Valle and Scarton 2019b). Even more interesting, pioneering studies are providing evidence that drones can be used to assess breeding success by providing detailed measures such as the number of eggs hatched or the number of young observed (Junda et al. 2015;Weissensteiner et al. 2015;Sardà-Palomera et al. 2017;Pöysä et al. 2018;Scarton and Valle 2020a). Moreover, they are increasingly used to study the reproductive biology of waterbirds at dangerous or almost inaccessible sites, such as the enormous wetlands of the Okavango Delta (Francis et al. 2020), or rocky islets amidst the middle of the Pacific Ocean (Inaccessible Island: McClelland et al. 2016). ...
... Predation risk during research procedures or investigator intrusions (sensu Nisbet 2000) in seabird colonies is an important issue that is still under debate (see Nisbet 2000; Ibáñez-Álamo et al. 2012 for a review). Although no significant increase in nest predation was found for six Charadriiformes species in response to research activities (Ibáñez-Álamo et al. 2012), the inverse relationship between investigator disturbance and breeding success is still a widely held view (Carney and Sydeman 1999). ...
Article
Drones are revolutionizing the methodological approaches to the study of bird population ecology, and pioneering studies are providing evidence that drones could effectively be used to study breeding success. This study compared the accuracy and precision of drone-conducted chick counts to traditional ground counts in a population of Sandwich Terns Thalasseus sandvicensis, and also assessed the safety and degree of disturbance of these methods for both adults and chicks. Results from ground and drone counts were compared to a third count which consisted of a combined count, accounting for uncounted individuals in each method. Fledging success, determined by ground count, drone count, and their combination, was, respectively, 0.54, 0.55, and 0.56 fledglings/nesting pair in 2018, and 0.62, 0.68, 0.69 fledglings/nesting pair in 2019. Mean crèche size of Sandwich Terns was similar for ground counts and counts made using drone-derived imagery, but these counts were lower than the mean crèche size obtained from combined counts. Drone counts were more accurate and precise than ground counts, and the distance walked from the nest site by crèches was far shorter for drone surveys compared with ground counts; likewise, the time spent by crèches far from the nesting site was far longer for the ground method compared with drone surveys. Our drone-based approach to repeated chick counts maximizes effectiveness and safety for birds without increasing resource absorption. The use of drones, in combination with the traditional ground-based approach, is a promising approach for the assessment of seabird productivity that can contribute to our understanding of the breeding biology of seabirds.
... water), unless users are prepared to carry out material-specific emissivity corrections on the dataset (Kunzer and Dech 2013). Drone-mounted thermal cameras can also be used for spatially extensive and non-invasive animal observations, such as identifying and counting seals (Seymour et al. 2017), as long as safe and legal minimum distances from these animals are respected (Junda et al. 2015). Owing to the low energy levels of electromagnetic radiation in the thermal infrared range, users should expect the ground sample distance of thermal cameras to be coarser than visible light cameras flown at the same altitude. ...
... Jurisdiction-specific regulations restrict drone-based activities in national parks, around marine mammals and other areas of wildlife activity, such as seabird nesting and foraging. Care should also be taken to minimise the chance of drone-wildlife interactions in general through the selection of suitable take-off and landing zones, altering flight timing or adopting specific flight techniques, such as those documented by Junda et al. (2015). The comprehensive review by Mulero-Pázmány et al. (2017) on the effect of drones on wildlife clearly demonstrates the need for a sit-specific plan that takes into account the time of day, type of wildlife in the area and size of drone to be flown. ...
Article
Full-text available
With almost limitless applications across marine and freshwater environments, the number of people using, and wanting to use, remotely piloted aircraft systems (or drones) is increasing exponentially. However, successfully using drones for data collection and mapping is often preceded by hours of researching drone capabilities and functionality followed by numerous limited-success flights as users tailor their approach to data collection through trial and error. Working over water can be particularly complex and the published research using drones rarely documents the methodology and practical information in sufficient detail to allow others, with little remote pilot experience, to replicate them or to learn from their mistakes. This can be frustrating and expensive, particularly when working in remote locations where the window of access is small. The aim of this paper is to provide a practical guide to drone-based data acquisition considerations. We hope to minimise the amount of trial and error required to obtain high-quality, map-ready data by outlining the principles and practice of data collection using drones, particularly in marine and freshwater environments. Importantly, our recommendations are grounded in remote sensing and photogrammetry theory so that the data collected are appropriate for making measurements and conducting quantitative data analysis.
... Another emerging application involves the use of small multirotor systems to perform nest checks, which is seen as a safer and more convenient alternative to either physical climbing or using conventional aircraft to survey hard-to-reach nests on trees, cliffs or artificial structures, as well as for highly defensive birds that attack intruders. Examples in the literature include surveying Steller's sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) nests (Potapov et al. 2013) and hooded crow (Corvus cornix) nests (Weissensteiner et al. 2015), while Junda et al. (2015) put forward a standard operating procedure for surveying raptor nests based on trials carried out at 110 nests of osprey (Pandion haliaetus), bald eagles (H. leucocephalus), ferruginous hawks (Buteo regalis), and red-tailed hawks (B. ...
... Small mammals and small birds, for their part, tend to be too small or concealed to be surveyed by conventional aircraft and overflight-style UAS missions. However, there may be much potential for such animals to be surveyed close-up by rotary-wing UAS wherever they occur in hard-to-reach places or are otherwise challenging or dangerous to approach, a technique that has already been applied to surveying raptor and corvid nests (Potapov et al. 2013;Junda et al. 2015;Weissensteiner et al. 2015) as well as approaching individual bears (Ditmer et al. 2015) and killer whales (Durban et al. 2015). Moreover, there may be potential for close-up UAS flights to survey or observe tree-or cliff-dwelling bats as well as primates, which are generally constrained to being observed from the ground. ...
Article
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Since the turn of the century, emerging unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have found increasingly diverse applications in wildlife science as convenient, very high-resolution remote sensing devices. Achieved or conceptualized applications include optical surveying and observation of animals, autonomous wildlife telemetry tracking, and habitat research and monitoring. As the technology continues to progress and interest from the wildlife science community grows, there may yet be much untapped potential for UAS to contribute to the discipline. We present a review of the published primary literature on the application of UAS in wildlife science and related fields. This is followed by a systematic review of the broader wildlife science literature published since the turn of the century to assess where UAS are likely to make important contributions going forward based on the trends that have emerged thus far. UAS, in particular small lightweight models, are generally well suited for collecting data at an intermediate spatial scale between what is easily coverable on the ground and what is economically coverable with conventional aircraft. They are particularly useful for monitoring wildlife and habitats in places that are difficult to access or navigate from the ground, as well as approaching sensitive or aggressive species.
... A straightforward application of UASs in wildlife monitoring is the use of multirotor UASs to check the content of open nests (nesting status, clutch size, brood size and nestling development) when it cannot be made appropriately with optical equipment and the nest is located in places of difficult access, such as cliffs (golden eagles and different vulture species, for instance) or the tree canopy (see specific examples below and Fig. 14.1). In such situations, the use of UAS is a relative inexpensive, faster and safer alternative to either climbing or the use of piloted aircrafts (Potapov et al. 2013;Weissensteiner et al. 2015;Junda et al. 2015). This approach has been successfully employed to survey nests of Steller's sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus; Potapov et al. 2013), osprey (Pandion haliaetus), bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), ferruginous hawks (Buteo regalis) and red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis; Junda et al. 2015) as well as of non-raptorial avian species such as white storks (Ciconia ciconia) (Mulero-Pázmány et al. 2014a;Weissensteiner et al. 2015). ...
... In such situations, the use of UAS is a relative inexpensive, faster and safer alternative to either climbing or the use of piloted aircrafts (Potapov et al. 2013;Weissensteiner et al. 2015;Junda et al. 2015). This approach has been successfully employed to survey nests of Steller's sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus; Potapov et al. 2013), osprey (Pandion haliaetus), bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), ferruginous hawks (Buteo regalis) and red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis; Junda et al. 2015) as well as of non-raptorial avian species such as white storks (Ciconia ciconia) (Mulero-Pázmány et al. 2014a;Weissensteiner et al. 2015). Further, through personal communications, we are aware this is a routinely approach used by several research groups to survey hard-to-reach nests; thus additional examples concerning other species will accumulate soon in the literature. ...
Chapter
In the last two decades, unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) have experienced an exponential development. Originally conceived for military use, technological advances and a dramatic reduction of prices are leading to widespread use of UASs in environmental disciplines including remote sensing, ecology, wildlife management or environmental monitoring (Chabot and Bird 2015; Linchant et al. 2015; Christie et al. 2016).
... The detailed procedure for flying the UAV over each nest was described earlier by Junda et al. (2015). In general, each survey was split into three stages: approach, at nest, and withdraw. ...
... Ospreys are well known for displaying high levels of antagonistic behaviour near the nest (Bird et al. 1983;Jamieson and Seymour 1983;Schroeder and Melquist 1975) and our general findings agreed with these observations. In our study, an osprey was the only species to actually strike the UAV (i.e., a single time in 51 nest survey flights) (Junda et al. 2015). The bird was unharmed, but the UAV crashed to the ground and sustained serious damage. ...
Article
A small rotary-winged Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was flown above the nests of four raptor species: Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis) and Red-tailed Hawk (B. jamaicensis) to document the parental nest defense response to the aircraft. Adult behaviour was documented with a voice recorder and an Ethogram, starting ~100m distant from the nest and continuing until the base of the nest was reached, the survey completed, and the nest area exited. All adult movements and vocalizations were recorded with distance of bird and researchers from the nest when a given behaviour occurred. Ospreys showed the strongest nest defense response followed by Ferruginous Hawks and Red-tailed Hawks with Bald Eagles showing the least aggressive response. Ospreys showed no greater response to the UAV in the air near the nest than to researchers simply standing at the base of the nest structure, while Bald Eagles showed a significantly higher response to the aircraft than researchers at the nest base. Although aggression varied, no species showed aggression at levels that would discourage the use of UAVs to survey raptor nests. When a proper flight technique is adopted, UAVs can offer a useful tool for surveying raptor nests.
... Badania z wykorzystaniem BSP pozwoliły również na zbadanie przestrzennych i czasowych czynników wpływających na dynamikę formowania się kolonii lęgowej oraz sukces lęgowy śmieszki (Sarda-Palomera et al. 2017). Drony są również bardzo dobrym narzędziem do inspekcji gniazd wielu gatunków ptaków drapieżnych (Potapova et al. 2013, Junda et al. 2015. Metoda ta jest skuteczna w przypadku badania sukcesu lęgowego czapli siwej i białej, gdyż ptaki, mimo że nie opuszczają zazwyczaj gniazd, wstają, ukazując wielkość zniesienia, natomiast w przypadku gawrona okazała się bardzo problematyczna ze względu na małą płochliwość wysiadujących osobników (A. ...
Article
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The paper presents a review of the literature and the author’s experience on the impact of drones on birds, as well as examples of the use of drones in ornithological research and conservation. Examples of the potential use of drones in research have been presented, and basic guidelines have been proposed. The problem of bird collisions with drones has been discussed on the basis of available recordings from the web portal YouTube.
... Indeed, growing literature has shown the validity of using drones to assess colony dynamics and population estimates of breeding bird colonies (McEvoy et al. 2016, Hodgson et al. 2018. Current research into UAVs spans ethical guidelines (Vas et al. 2015), recreating environmental data input from bird flight paths (Rodríguez et al. 2012), monitoring nesting status (Weissensteiner et al. 2015, Junda et al. 2015, and both manual and automated detection routines for groups of birds and nest counts (Trathan 2004, Chabot and Bird 2013, Sardà-Palomera et al. 2012, Chabot and Francis 2016, Hodgson et al. 2016. However, understanding of interactions between birds and UAVs remains relatively poor, particularly with regards to any potential negative impacts of UAV research for monitoring colonially breeding waterbirds. ...
... Unmanned aircraft have been deployed at the landscape level to survey greater sage-grouse Centrocercus urophasianus leks (Hanson, Holmquist-Johnson, & Cowardin, 2014) and estimate nesting density of common terns Sterna hirundo (Chabot, Craik, & Bird, 2015). Other studies have shown UAS to be an effective method for determining nesting status of several raptor species including osprey Pandion haliaetus, bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus, ferruginous hawk Buteo regalis, red-tailed hawk Buteo jamaicensis (Junda, Greene, & Bird, 2015), and Stellar's sea eagle Haliaeetus pelagicus (Potapov, Utekhina, McGrady, & Rimlinger, 2013). Weissensteiner, Poelstra, and Wolf (2015) found that UAS can be efficiently used to save time in checking nest contents of canopynesting birds by eliminating the need for surveyors to climb trees for such inspections. ...
Article
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Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are relatively new technologies gaining popularity among wildlife biologists. As with any new tool in wildlife science, operating protocols must be developed through rigorous protocol testing. Few studies have been conducted that quantify the impacts UAS may have on unhabituated individuals in the wild using standard aerial survey protocols. We evaluated impacts of unmanned surveys by measuring UAS-induced behavioral responses during the nesting phase of lesser snow geese (Anser caerulescens caerulescens) in Wapusk National Park, Manitoba, Canada. We conducted surveys with a fixed-wing Trimble UX5 and monitored behavioral changes via discreet surveillance cameras at 25 nests. Days with UAS surveys resulted in decreased resting and increased nest maintenance, low scanning, high scanning, head-cocking and off-nest behaviors when compared to days without UAS surveys. In the group of birds flown over, head-cocking for overhead vigilance was rarely seen prior to launch or after landing (mean estimates 0.03% and 0.02%, respectively) but increased to 0.56% of the time when the aircraft was flying overhead suggesting that birds were able to detect the aircraft during flight. Neither UAS survey altitude nor launch distance alone in this study was strong predictors of nesting behaviors, although our flight altitudes (≥75 m above ground level) were much higher than previously published behavioral studies. Synthesis and applications: The diversity of UAS models makes generalizations on behavioral impacts difficult, and we caution that researchers should design UAS studies with knowledge that some minimal disturbance is likely to occur. We recommend flight designs take potential behavioral impacts into account by increasing survey altitude where data quality requirements permit. Such flight designs should consider a priori knowledge of focal species’ behavioral characteristics. Research is needed to determine whether any such disturbance is a result of visual or auditory stimuli.
... In conclusion, our study adds to the recent but growing body of literature that measure the reaction of wildlife to UAVs, and illustrate that, if used appropriately, UAVs can accurately survey wildlife without excessive disturbance 16,22,34,41 . Our results on cliff-nesting birds could be extrapolated outside the Arctic ecosystem. ...
Article
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Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) provide an opportunity to rapidly census wildlife in remote areas while removing some of the hazards. However, wildlife may respond negatively to the UAVs, thereby skewing counts. We surveyed four species of Arctic cliff-nesting seabirds (glaucous gull Larus hyperboreus, Iceland gull Larus glaucoides, common murre Uria aalge and thick-billed murre Uria lomvia) using a UAV and compared censusing techniques to ground photography. An average of 8.5% of murres flew off in response to the UAV, but >99% of those birds were non-breeders. We were unable to detect any impact of the UAV on breeding success of murres, except at a site where aerial predators were abundant and several birds lost their eggs to predators following UAV flights. Furthermore, we found little evidence for habituation by murres to the UAV. Most gulls flew off in response to the UAV, but returned to the nest within five minutes. Counts of gull nests and adults were similar between UAV and ground photography, however the UAV detected up to 52.4% more chicks because chicks were camouflaged and invisible to ground observers. UAVs provide a less hazardous and potentially more accurate method for surveying wildlife. We provide some simple recommendations for their use.
... Flights were conducted by two researchers: one pilot responsible for flying the sUAS and image acquisition, and one spotter to monitor reactions and proximity of kestrels and other birds (as in Junda et al. 2015). At study sites where kestrels were known to be present, UAV flights elicited either no reaction or an alert reaction (sensu Mulero-P azm any et al. 2017), consistent with findings by other researchers that flights by electric UAV 20-45 m from focal species are unlikely to provoke strong behavioral responses (Mulero-P azm any et al. 2017). ...
Article
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Abstract Photography with small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) offers opportunities for researchers to better understand habitat selection in wildlife, especially for species that select habitat from an aerial perspective (e.g., many bird species). The growing number of commercial sUAS being flown by recreational users represents a potentially valuable source of data for documenting and studying wildlife habitat. We used a commercially available quadcopter sUAS with a visible spectrum camera to classify habitat for American Kestrels (Falco sparverius; Aves), as well as to evaluate aspects of image processing and postprocessing relevant to a simple habitat analysis using citizen science photography. We investigated inter–observer repeatability of habitat classification, effectiveness of cross‐image classification and Gaussian filtering, and sensitivity to classification resolution. We photographed vegetation around nests from both 25 m and 50 m above takeoff elevation, and analyzed images via maximum likelihood supervised classification. Our results indicate that commercial off‐the‐shelf sUAS photography can distinguish between grass, herbaceous, woody, bare ground, and human‐modified cover classes with good (kappa > 0.6) or strong (kappa > 0.8) accuracy using a 0.25 m2 minimum patch size for aggregation. There was inter‐subject variability in designating training samples, but high repeatability of supervised classification accuracy. Gaussian filtering reduced classification accuracy, while coarser classification resolution out‐performed finer resolution due to “speckling noise.” Image self‐classification significantly outperformed cross‐image classification. Mean classification accuracy metrics (kappa values) across different photo heights differed little, but, importantly, the rank order of images differed noticeably.
... Säugetiere reagierten gemäss dieser Metaanalyse weniger stark als Vögel und es zeigte sich eine Tendenz zu stärkeren Reaktionen bei grösseren und bei nicht fliegenden gegenüber kleineren Vögeln. Nur vier der referenzierten Studien entsprechen allerdings den Einschlusskriterien der vorliegenden Studie (Chabot, Craik, & Bird, 2015;Dulava, Bean, & Richmond, 2015;Junda, Greene, & Bird, 2015;Vas, Lescroel, Duriez, Boguszewski, & Gremillet, 2015a), die restlichen beziehen sich entweder auf nicht vergleichbare Klimazonen (Arktis, Subtropen) oder Ökosysteme (Meer), wurden vor 1995 publiziert, rapportieren lediglich Einzelbeobachtungen oder sind so ausgelegt, dass keine negativen Auswirkungen auf die untersuchten Organismen im Fokus waren (Aufmerken, Pulsfrequenz o.Ä.). Daneben gibt es zwei umfangreiche Übersichtsdarstellungen (beide aus demselben Forschungsprojekt) zu den allgemeinen Auswirkungen des Flugverkehrs auf Vögel, die auch das Modellfliegen behandeln . ...
Technical Report
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Die Studie beschreibt den Stand des Wissens zur Entwicklung von Outdoor-Aktivitäten während den letzten zehn bis zwanzig Jahren und den damit verbundenen Auswirkungen auf die Natur. Es werden Forschungslücken identifiziert und Initiativen und Massnahmen aufgezeigt, die dazu beitragen, die Vereinbarkeit von Nutzung und Schutz der Natur zu verbessern. Es werden Vorschläge formuliert, wie sich die entsprechenden Ansätze weiterentwickeln lassen.
... Accordingly, minimizing piloting or operator errors would be increasingly relevant to the design of natural resource agency pilot training programs. Although some data have been available on training or operations design for specific tasks (e.g., Junda et al. 2015), there is limited guidance on basic pilot training for new resource management remote pilots. Because little information is available regarding sUAS crashes and accidents, during the design phase of my natural resource agency's remote pilot training program, internet video of sUAS crashes was systematically assessed with the objective of determining what topics to emphasize during our training classes. ...
Article
Studies of accidents involving large and military unmanned aerial vehicles have demonstrated that these are largely due to equipment failure. In many cases, accidents involving small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) do not reach damage or injury thresholds which require reporting. As a result, sUAS are not represented in existing accident analysis. This study systematically surveyed unintended flight terminations of sUAS (n = 292) depicted in internet video. Each flight termination was categorized into four categories. Controlled flight into an object and piloting errors were the most common reasons for flight termination (49.3% and 32.5%, respectively). Hardware malfunctions were the least common reason (2.1%). Training programs for natural resource remote pilots should emphasize flight proficiency and knowledge of the flight characteristics of systems being used. Keywords: drone, sUAS, crash, accident, training, pilot error
... In addition to avoidance of anthropogenic noise, some bird species have been shown to alter the frequency (Seger-Fullam et al. 2011), amplitude (Brumm 2004), or timing of song (Dominoni et al. 2016) to avoid masking by anthropogenic noise. We are not aware of any studies of the effects of UAVs on bird song output, but an experimental study found very modest behavioral responses to UAVs being flown to within 4 m of wetland birds (Vas et al. 2015), whereas others have found either no effect or very modest effects on the behavior of nesting birds (Junda et al. 2015, Weissensteiner et al. 2015, McClelland et al. 2016. We conducted an experiment to see whether bird song output detected by ground-based bioacoustics recorders (Song Meter SM3; http://www.wildlifeacoustics. ...
Article
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Obtaining unbiased survey data for vocal bird species is inherently challenging due to observer biases, habitat coverage biases, and logistical constraints. We propose that combining bioacoustic monitoring with unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology could reduce some of these biases and allow bird surveys to be conducted in less accessible areas. We tested the feasibility of the UAV approach to songbird surveys using a low-cost quadcopter with a simple, lightweight recorder suspended 8 m below the vehicle. In a field experiment using playback of bird recordings, we found that small variations in UAV altitude (it hovered at 28, 48, and 68 m) didn't have a significant effect on detections by the recorder attached to the UAV, and we found that the detection radius of our equipment was comparable with detection radii of standard point counts. We then field tested our equipment, comparing songbird detections from our UAV-mounted recorder with standard point-count data from 51 count stations. We found that the number of birds per point on UAV counts was comparable with standard counts for most species, but there were significant underestimates for some-specifically, issues of song masking for a species with a low-frequency song, the Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura); and underestimation of the abundance of a species that was found in very high densities, the Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis). Species richness was lower on UAV counts (mean = 5.6 species point⁻¹) than on standard counts (8.3 species point⁻¹), but only slightly lower than on standard counts if nonaudible detections are omitted (6.5 species point⁻¹). Excessive UAV noise is a major hurdle to using UAVs for bioacoustic monitoring, but we are optimistic that technological innovations to reduce motor and rotor noise will significantly reduce this issue. We conclude that UAV-based bioacoustic monitoring holds great promise, and we urge other researchers to consider further experimentation to refine techniques.
... Legislation governing the use of UAVs in public areas has lagged behind their increasing popularity although some positive changes in regulations have taken place recently (Allan et al., 2015). While small off-the-shelf UAVs with limited range and payload capacity are appropriate for many ecological applications, such as checking the status of nests in hard to reach places (Junda, Greene & Bird, 2015;Potapov et al., 2013;Weissensteiner, Poelstra & Wolf, 2015), larger scale projects require a more specialised and correspondingly larger UAV to carry appropriate equipment and achieve viable flight times (Chabot, Carignan & Bird, 2014). For most researchers this will mean collaborating with a commercial UAV company in order to ensure the technical expertise needed to pilot more complex systems and all relevant aviation permits are in place. ...
Article
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The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for ecological research has grown rapidly in recent years, but few studies have assessed the disturbance impacts of these tools on focal subjects, particularly when observing easily disturbed species such as waterfowl. In this study we assessed the level of disturbance that a range of UAV shapes and sizes had on free-living, non-breeding waterfowl surveyed in two sites in eastern Australia between March and May 2015, as well as the capability of airborne digital imaging systems to provide adequate resolution for unambiguous species identification of these taxa. We found little or no obvious disturbance effects on wild, mixed-species flocks of waterfowl when UAVs were flown at least 60m above the water level (fixed wing models) or 40m above individuals (multirotor models). Disturbance in the form of swimming away from the UAV through to leaving the water surface and flying away from the UAV was visible at lower altitudes and when fixed-wing UAVs either approached subjects directly or rapidly changed altitude and/or direction near animals. Using tangential approach flight paths that did not cause disturbance, commercially available onboard optical equipment was able to capture images of sufficient quality to identify waterfowl and even much smaller taxa such as swallows. Our results show that with proper planning of take-off and landing sites, flight paths and careful UAV model selection, UAVs can provide an excellent tool for accurately surveying wild waterfowl populations and provide archival data with fewer logistical issues than traditional methods such as manned aerial surveys.
... Viðbrögðin eru þá einatt á þann hátt að einstaklingar leggja á flótta eða sýna varnartilburði, sem er einkum algengt meðal ránfugla. 63,64 Þessar rannsóknir sýna okkur að fara verður varlega með dróna í kringum villt dýr því þeir geta sannarlega valdið auknu álagi. Þetta ber að hafa í huga þegar kemur að mótun reglugerða um dróna, hvort sem er um almenna notkun eða notkun í vísindaskyni. ...
Article
Ómönnuð flugför með myndavélum hafa á síðustu árum orðið mun ódýr-ari en áður og eru nú almenningseign. Nýting taekjanna við rannsóknir verður sífellt algengari en enn er mikið verk óunnið hérlendis við að staðla verk-lag, aðferðafraeði og nýtingu ómannaðra flygilda við náttúrufarsrannsóknir. Rannsóknin sem hér er sagt frá fólst í því að kanna hvernig myndavéladróni nýtist til rannsókna á óaðgengilegum og torveldum stöðum. Vettvangur rannsóknarinnar var Eldey. Í þessari grein er lagt mat á aðferðafraeðina og birtar niðurstöður súlutalningar í eyjunni í júní 2017, auk talningar á ritu, fýl og selum sem héldu til á eyjunni. Þetta er í fyrsta sinn sem úttekt afmarkaðs sjó-fuglavarps hér á landi fer fram með dróna. Verkefnið gekk vel og voru niður-stöður súlutalninga í góðu samraemi við fyrri talningar í Eldey. Aðferðafraeðina þyrfti hins vegar að baeta til að fá fullnaegjandi mat á öðrum tegundum, svo sem ritu, svartfugl og fýl. Samkvaemt niðurstöðum þessa rannsóknarverkefnis má nýta dróna með ágaetum árangri við talningar í sjófuglabyggðum og gefur það góð fyrirheit um frekari not af þeim við náttúrufarsrannsóknir hér á landi.
... In part, the increase is linked to increased affordability and platform options of UAVs (Brinkman and Garcelon 2020), as well as the increase in the number of peer-reviewed publications using UAVs (Chabot 2018). Among wildlife applications, UAVs have been most commonly used for wildlife monitoring (Chabot andBird 2015, Linchant et al. 2015), such as raptor nests (Junda et al. 2015), polar bear social interactions (Barnas et al. 2018), detecting invasive species (Juanes 2018, Brinkman and Garcelon 2020, Herrera et al. 2020, and estimating wildlife population demographics (Evans et al. 2016, Sykora-Bodie et al. 2017, Ezat et al. 2018, Hodgson et al. 2018, McKellar et al. 2021. Compared to aerial surveys conducted via fixed-wing aircraft or helicopters, UAV-conducted surveys are safer for the operator in terms of risk of injury or death (Sasse 2003, Brinkman andGarcelon 2020). ...
Article
Due to muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) population declines in North America, it is important to develop rapid, safe, and economical tools for estimating abundance over large spatial and temporal scales. During November 2020 – February 2021, we assessed unoccupied aerial vehicles (UAVs) at Bear Creek Flooding State Wildlife Management Area in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. We examined aerial red-green-blue (RGB) and thermal imagery for estimating the total number of muskrat houses during a snow-free and snow-cover period relative to ground surveys. Muskrat house counts were similar between the December snow-cover UAV RGB image survey and February ground survey (V = 70, P = 0.559), but 132% and 136% lower for November snow-free UAV survey compared to snow-cover UAV (V = 203.5, P<0.001) and ground (V = 196, P<0.001) surveys, respectively. Unoccupied aerial vehicles can rapidly, safely, and economically estimate and track relative abundance of muskrats in wetlands that have some snow cover and should be evaluated further in more systems at different times of the year. Effective use of UAV imaging for muskrat house surveys is dependent on time of day, temperature, and weather conditions. Conducting UAV surveys in tandem with ground surveys would improve estimates of relative abundance if active muskrat houses are better defined.
... With recent technologies of high-resolution photography, researchers have adopted this device to monitor bird nesting at a distance, such as by counting the distribution of the black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) nests [9]. Moreover, by piloting UAVs above the canopy, Junda et al. [10] could ascertain all nest contents in the area and determine the species of the eggs belonged to, the clutch size, and the number of nestlings. ...
Article
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Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), so-called 'drones', have been widely used to monitor wild animals. Here, we tested a UAV with red, green, and blue (RGB) and thermal cameras to detect free-living birds in a high Arctic region in North Greenland and in a restricted area in the Republic of Korea. Small flocks of molting pink-footed geese (Anser brachyrhynchus) near sea ice and incubating common ringed plovers (Charadrius hiaticula) in the Arctic environment were chosen for the RGB and thermal image studies. From the acquired images, we built mosaicked RGB images and coregistered thermal images, and estimated the animal shapes. Our results showed that geese were discriminated in both RGB and thermal images with water and sea ice backgrounds. Incubating plover bodies were not distinguished in RGB images due to their cryptic coloration, but they were detected in thermal images with cold background areas in the Arctic environment. We further conducted a blind survey in a restricted area under military control in Korea near the breeding sites of black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor), which is an endangered species. From UAV flights with RGB and thermal cameras operated out of the restricted area, we acquired images of white objects in the mudflats and verified that the objects were resting spoonbills by watching the birds. We suggest that thermal cameras and UAVs can be applied to monitor animals in extreme environments and in restricted areas and help researchers find cryptic wader nests.
... Survey areas were marked out with coloured plastic sheets weighed down with stones; GPS coordinates of these were recorded to allow subsequent georeferencing of images. A cloth "helipad" was used to protect the drone from dust and guano during take-off and landing, which was positioned on a flat area at least 30 m distant from any nesting birds to reduce disturbance (Junda et al. 2015;Mustafa et al. 2018;Rummler et al. 2018). The location and name of the colony were written on a small whiteboard, and a photograph of this was taken with the UAV camera to allow subsequent image identification. ...
Article
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Surveying seabirds in polar latitudes can be challenging due to sparse human populations, lack of infrastructure and the risk of disturbance to wildlife or damage to habitats. Counting populations using un-crewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) is a promising approach to overcoming these difficulties. However, a careful validation of the approach is needed to ensure comparability with counts collected using conventional methods. Here, we report on surveys of three Antarctic bird species breeding on Signy Island, South Orkney Islands; Chinstrap (Pygoscelis antarctica) and Gentoo (Pygoscelis papua) Penguins, and the South Georgia Shag (Leucocarbo atriceps georgianus). We show that images from low-altitude UAV surveys have sufficient resolution to allow separation of Chinstrap Penguins from contiguously breeding Adélie Penguins (Pygoscelis adéliae), which are very similar in appearance when viewed from overhead. We compare data from ground counts with manual counts of nesting birds on images collected simultaneously by low-altitude aerial photography from multi-rotor UAVs at the same colonies. Results at this long-term monitoring site confirmed a continued population decline for Chinstrap Penguins and increasing Gentoo Penguin population. Although both methods provided breeding pair counts that were generally within ~ 5%, there were significant differences at some locations. We examine these differences in order to highlight potential biases or methodological constraints that should be considered when analysing similar aerial census surveys and comparing them with ground counts.
... Taxonomical classifications of animals represented in peer-reviewed research articles:, cetaceans, and bony fishes(Jech et al. 2020); vocalisations in bats(Fu et al. 2018;Kloepper and Kinniry 2018); and nest contents and survival in birds of preyJunda et al. 2015), aquatic birdsLachman et al., 2020), and passerines. A further seven research articles involved drone flights to collect samples from animals, which all related to blow sampling from cetaceansGeoghegan et al. 2018;. ...
Article
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Drones or unoccupied aerial vehicles are rapidly being used for a spectrum of applications, including replacing traditional occupied aircraft as a means of approaching wildlife from the air. Though less intrusive to wildlife than occupied aircraft, drones can still cause varying levels of disturbance. Policies and protocols to guide lowest-impact drone flights are most likely to succeed if considerations are derived from knowledge from scientific literature. This study examines trends in the scientific literature on using drones to approach wildlife between 2000 and 2020, specifically in relation to the type of publications, scientific journals works are published in, the purposes of drone flights reported, taxa studied, and locations of studies. From 223 publications, we observed a large increase in relevant scientific literature, the majority of which were peer-reviewed articles published across 87 scientific journals. The largest proportions of peer-reviewed research articles related to aquatic mammals or aquatic birds, and the use or trial of drone flights for conducting population surveys, animal detection or investigations of animal responses to drone flights. The largest proportion of articles were studies conducted in North America and Australia. Since animal responses to drone flights vary between taxa, populations, and geographic locations, we encourage further growth in the volume of relevant scientific literature needed to inform policies and protocols for specific taxa and/or locations, particularly where knowledge gaps exist.
... The noise associated with UAVs may also disrupt organisms inhabiting natural ecosystems. While there are instances of UAVs having been attacked by birds (Yaacoub et al., 2020;Chaari and Al-Maadeed, 2021), which can disrupt research progress and harm birds, best practices have been developed to fly UAVs around birds (Junda et al., 2015). Noise or activity produced may also create other types of unsafe situations for researchers. ...
Article
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The arboreal ecosystem is vitally important to global and local biogeochemical processes, the maintenance of biodiversity in natural systems, and human health in urban environments. The ability to collect samples, observations, and data to conduct meaningful scientific research is similarly vital. The primary methods and modes of access remain limited and difficult. In an online survey, canopy researchers (n = 219) reported a range of challenges in obtaining adequate samples, including ∼10% who found it impossible to procure what they needed. Currently, these samples are collected using a combination of four primary methods: (1) sampling from the ground; (2) tree climbing; (3) constructing fixed infrastructure; and (4) using mobile aerial platforms, primarily rotorcraft drones. An important distinction between instantaneous and continuous sampling was identified, allowing more targeted engineering and development strategies. The combination of methods for sampling the arboreal ecosystem provides a range of possibilities and opportunities, particularly in the context of the rapid development of robotics and other engineering advances. In this study, we aim to identify the strategies that would provide the benefits to a broad range of scientists, arborists, and professional climbers and facilitate basic discovery and applied management. Priorities for advancing these efforts are (1) to expand participation, both geographically and professionally; (2) to define 2–3 common needs across the community; (3) to form and motivate focal teams of biologists, tree professionals, and engineers in the development of solutions to these needs; and (4) to establish multidisciplinary communication platforms to share information about innovations and opportunities for studying arboreal ecosystems.
... The noise associated with UAVs may also disrupt organisms inhabiting natural ecosystems. While there are instances of UAVs having been attacked by birds (Yaacoub et al., 2020;Chaari and Al-Maadeed, 2021), which can disrupt research progress and harm birds, best practices have been developed to fly UAVs around birds (Junda et al., 2015). Noise or activity produced may also create other types of unsafe situations for researchers. ...
Article
Full-text available
The arboreal ecosystem is vitally important to global and local biogeochemical processes, the maintenance of biodiversity in natural systems, and human health in urban environments. The ability to collect samples, observations, and data to conduct meaningful scientific research is similarly vital. The primary methods and modes of access remain limited and difficult. In an online survey, canopy researchers (n = 219) reported a range of challenges in obtaining adequate samples, including ∼10% who found it impossible to procure what they needed. Currently, these samples are collected using a combination of four primary methods: (1) sampling from the ground; (2) tree climbing; (3) constructing fixed infrastructure; and (4) using mobile aerial platforms, primarily rotorcraft drones. An important distinction between instantaneous and continuous sampling was identified, allowing more targeted engineering and development strategies. The combination of methods for sampling the arboreal ecosystem provides a range of possibilities and opportunities, particularly in the context of the rapid development of robotics and other engineering advances. In this study, we aim to identify the strategies that would provide the benefits to a broad range of scientists, arborists, and professional climbers and facilitate basic discovery and applied management. Priorities for advancing these efforts are (1) to expand participation, both geographically and professionally; (2) to define 2–3 common needs across the community; (3) to form and motivate focal teams of biologists, tree professionals, and engineers in the development of solutions to these needs; and (4) to establish multidisciplinary communication platforms to share information about innovations and opportunities for studying arboreal ecosystems.
... In conclusion, while UAVs are being used to answer many novel questions in conservation science 7,24,25,30,31 , disturbance to wildlife from the drone is an important consideration for any conservation or related management application 2,4,7,8,10,13,[32][33][34] . We concluded that bats in our study were less detectable around drones, at least in open habitats, likely due to the noise the machines generate. ...
Article
Full-text available
Advances in technological capabilities, operational simplicity and cost efficiency have promoted the rapid integration of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into ecological research, providing access to study taxa that are otherwise difficult to survey, such as bats. Many bat species are currently at risk, but accurately surveying populations is challenging for species that do not roost in large aggregations. Acoustic recorders attached to UAVs provide an opportunity to survey bats in challenging habitats. However, UAVs may alter bat behaviour, leading to avoidance of the UAV, reduced detection rates and inaccurate surveys. We evaluated the number of bat passes detected with and without the presence of a small, commercial UAV in open habitats. Only 22% of bat passes were recorded in the presence of the UAV (0.23 ± 0.09 passes/min) compared to control periods without the UAV (1.03 ± 0.17 passes/min), but the effect was smaller on the big brown bat/silver-haired bat ( Eptesicus fuscus / Lasionycteris noctivagans ) acoustic complex. Noise interference from the UAV also reduced on-board bat detection rates. We conclude that acoustic records attached to UAVs may inaccurately survey bat populations due to low and variable detection rates by such recorders.
... Proboscis monkey [80] Raptor [81] Waterbirds [82] Anti-poaching Rhinoceros [83] Elephant [84,85] For marine biology, the 'SnotBot' project [62] uses a modified DJI Inspire 2 UAV to conduct whale research. In particular, SnotBot collects blowing samples of whales as they surface and exhale. ...
Article
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As a typical cyber-physical system, networked unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have received much attention in recent years. Emerging communication technologies and high-performance control methods enable networked UAVs to operate as aerial sensor networks to collect more complete and consistent information with significantly improved mobility and flexibility than traditional sensing platforms. One of the main applications of networked UAVs is surveillance and monitoring, which constitute essential components of a well-functioning public safety system and many industrial applications. Although the existing literature on surveillance and monitoring UAVs is extensive, a comprehensive survey on this topic is lacking. This article classifies publications on networked UAVs for surveillance and monitoring using the targets of interest and analyzes several typical problems on this topic, including the control, navigation, and deployment optimization of UAVs. The related research gaps and future directions are also presented.
... Progress in robotics and miniaturization, and the falling price of drones have caused an increase in their use in nature studies, including ornithology (Chabot & Bird 2015, Christie et al. 2016 (Junda et al. 2015). Current research focusses mainly on the impact of drones on the disturbance to, and behaviour of, birds (e.g. ...
Article
Due to their falling cost, unmanned aerial vehicles, often called drones, are increasingly used as a tool in birdresearch and conservation. However, behavioural responses of birds to flying drones are still not well understood, for example do birds recognize drones as predators, as benign, or as neutral elements? How do they react to drones? We answered these questions and described the behaviour of birds toward drones during a study with White Stork Ciconia ciconia in north-eastern Poland. We used a small quadrocopter and noted flight initiation distances (FID) of adultstorks on nests and behavioural reactions of their young towards drones. During nest inspections by drone, adult WhiteStorks showed FIDs of between 1 and 20 metres, but occasionally did not even flush during drone approaches. FID wasmainly affected by breeding stage, but some storks even ignored the working drones close to the nest (14%). Birds thatescaped from the nest at the egg stage, returned to it on average within 23 seconds. The most common reactions of young White Storks to the drone were scaring (42%) and akinesis (34%). The rapid return of adult storks to the nest,even when scared away, shows that drones are not an highly invasive tool for examining their breeding outputs, evenduring the most sensitive period, i.e. egg stage. We believe that drones will soon become an important and commontool in research of the White Stork for determining breeding success and examining nests for hazards, e.g. waste, stringsor electrocution risk. Our research can be a useful guide to researchers for predicting stork behaviour during inspectionof their nests in the near future.
... Thus, RPAS can be applied to examine the density or distribution of cryptic or endangered species. RPAS could save time and help with identifying whole raptor nestlings and eggs [65] or Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) nests [66], both located at the tops of trees. ...
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In wildlife biology, it is important to conduct efficient observations and quantitative monitoring of wild animals. Conventional wildlife monitoring mainly relies on direct field observations by the naked eyes or through binoculars, on-site image acquisition at fixed spots, and sampling or capturing under severe areal constraints. Recently, remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), also called drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), were successfully applied to detect wildlife with imaging sensors, such as RGB and thermal-imaging sensors, with superior detection capabilities to those of human observation. Here, we review studies with RPAS which has been increasingly used in wildlife detection and explain how an RPAS-based high-resolution RGB image can be applied to wild animal studies from the perspective of individual detection and population surveys as well as behavioral studies. The applicability of thermal-imaging sensors was also assessed with further information extractable from image analyses. In addition, RPAS-based case studies of acquisition of high-resolution RGB images for the purpose of detecting southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) and shape property extraction using thermal-imaging sensor in King George Island, maritime Antarctica is presented as applications in an extreme environment. The case studies suggest that currently available cost-effective small-sized RPAS, which are capable of flexible operation and mounting miniaturized imaging sensors, and are easily maneuverable even from an inflatable boat, can be an effective and supportive technique for both the visual interpretation and quantitative analysis of wild animals in low-accessible extreme or maritime environments.
... Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are an emerging tool whose applications to the life sciences are still being identified. To date, their use in field ornithology has included visual (Grenzd€ orffer 2013) and auditory (Wilson et al. 2017) population surveys, monitoring of raptor nests (Junda et al. 2015), and detection and tracking of radio-tagged forest songbirds (Tremblay et al. 2017). Compared to using manned aircraft or helicopters for similar tasks, modern UAVs are affordable, relatively simple to operate, able to get closer to subjects, and highly portable (Vallet et al. 2011, Niethammer et al. 2012, increasing their applicability in diverse fields. ...
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en Habitat variables related to vegetation type and structure are routinely identified as important components of nest‐site selection for birds. For ground‐nesting birds, small‐scale (< 0.5 m) microtopography may also play a role in nest‐site selection through its effects on nest concealment and microclimate. Manual measurements of microtopography are challenging, time‐consuming, and subject to user error. Ultrahigh‐density point clouds generated using structure‐from‐motion (SfM) algorithms and photomosaics captured during Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) surveys can potentially provide detailed topographical measurements with less error. We used multiple indices of surface roughness to examine the effect of microtopography on nest site selection by White‐rumped Sandpipers (Calidris fuscicollis) at East Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Nunavut, Canada. We measured microtopography manually using the relative height index within a 1‐m radius of used and unused sites. We generated three digital indices of surface roughness for 1‐m and 5‐m scales around nests and unused sites, including standard deviation of slope, slope variability, and 2D:3D area ratio. We compared the digital indices of used and unused sites at both spatial scales. Relative height of nearby hummocks was significantly lower at nests than at unused sites, indicating selection for flatter sites. Similarly, two of three digitally calculated terrain roughness indices were significantly lower at nests than unused sites at both the 1‐m and 5‐m scales. The 2D:3D ratio did not differ between nests and unused sites. Manual and UAV‐derived measures were significantly correlated, but with substantial unexplained variation (Pearson’s r = 0.35–0.46). Our results suggest that White‐rumped Sandpipers select nest sites in areas with low terrain roughness, potentially to increase their field of view to monitor approaching predators. We also demonstrate the applicability of SfM habitat reconstruction for testing hypotheses of small‐scale habitat variables that may be impossible to study using traditional methods. RESUMEN es Aplicación de la reconstrucción de la estructura del hábitat a partir del movimiento y el análisis del terreno con GIS para probar la hipótesis sobre la selección del lugar para anidar por playeros. Las variables del hábitat relacionadas con el tipo y la estructura de la vegetación se identifican de forma rutinaria como componentes importantes de la selección del lugar para anidar por parte de las aves. Para aves que anidan en el suelo, la microtopografía a pequeña escala (< 0,5 m), también puede jugar un papel en la selección del lugar para anidar, a través de sus efectos de microclima y de ocultar el nido. Las medidas manuales de microtopografía son un desafío, consumen mucho tiempo y están sujetas a errores por parte del usuario. Nubes de puntos de densidad ultra alta, generadas utilizando algoritmos de estructura a partir de movimiento (SfM) y fotomosaicos capturados (durante las encuestas de vehículos aéreos no tripulados (UAV)), pueden proporcionar medidas topográficas con menos error. Usamos índices múltiples de aspereza de la superficie para examinar el efecto de la microtopografía en la selección de lugares para anidar por parte del Playero rabadilla blanca (Calidris fuscicollis) en el Santuario “East Bay Migratory Bird,” localizado en Nunavut, Canadá. Medimos manualmente la microtopografía usando el índice de altura relativa dentro de un radio de 1 m de sitios usados y no utilizados para anidar. Generamos tres índices digitales de aspereza de la superficie para escalas de 1 m y 5 m alrededor de los nidos y sitios no utilizados, incluida la desviación estándar de la pendiente, variabilidad de la pendiente y relación de área 2D: 3D. Comparamos los índices digitales de sitios usados y no usados para anidar, en ambas escalas espaciales. La altura relativa de los montículos cercanos fue significativamente menor en los lugares con nidos que en los sitios no utilizados, lo que indica la selección de sitios más planos. De manera similar, dos de los tres índices de aspereza del terreno, calculados digitalmente, fueron significativamente más bajos en los lugares con nidos que en los sitios no utilizados en las escalas de 1 m y 5 m. La relación 2D: 3D no difirió entre lugares con nidos y sitios no utilizados para anidar. Las medidas manuales y derivadas de UAV fueron significativamente correlacionadas, pero con una variación sustancial inexplicable (r de Pearson = 0,35–0,46). Nuestros resultados sugieren que los playeros seleccionan, para anidar, áreas con poca aspereza del terreno, potencialmente para aumentar su campo de visión y poder monitorear a los depredadores que se pudieran acercar. También demostramos la aplicabilidad de SfM en la reconstrucción del hábitat para probar la hipótesis de variables de hábitat a pequeña escala, los cuales puede ser virtualmente imposibles de estudiar utilizando métodos tradicionales.
... Drones (Chapman 2014) are increasingly popular tools in the natural sciences and are notably being used for a growing variety of wildlife-related applications, including: monitoring of birds Ratcliffe et al. 2015;Weissensteiner et al. 2015;McEvoy et al. 2016), marine mammals (Hodgson et al. 2013(Hodgson et al. , 2017Koski et al. 2015;Moreland et al. 2015;Adame et al. 2017;Pirotta et al. 2017; Barnas et al. 2018b), large terrestrial mammals (Vermeulen et al. 2013;Guo et al. 2018;Su et al. 2018;Hu et al. 2020), primates (Van Andel et al. 2015;Wich et al. 2016;Bonnin et al. 2018), and reptiles (Elsey and Trosclair 2016;Schofield et al. 2017;Thapa et al. 2018); wildlife habitat assessment and modeling (Chabot et al. 2014;Puttock et al. 2015;Fraser et al. 2016;Marcaccio et al. 2016;Olsoy et al. 2018); and wildlife conflict management (Israel 2011;Mulero-Pázmány et al. 2013, 2014Olivares-Mendez et al. 2015;Michez et al. 2016). The steady progression of drones into the toolkits of wildlife researchers and managers has been documented through a growing number of literature reviews (Anderson and Gaston 2013;Linchant et al. 2015;Christie et al. 2016;Borrelle and Fletcher 2017;Fiori et al. 2017;Mulero-Pázmány et al. 2017;Mustafa et al. 2018;Rees et al. 2018;Johnston 2019) and the publication of methodological synthesis and "best practice" articles (Junda et al. 2015;Hodgson and Koh 2016;Baxter and Hamilton 2018;Brack et al. 2018;Duffy et al. 2018). ...
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Drones are increasingly popular tools for wildlife research, but it is importantthat the use of these tools does not overshadow reporting of methodological detailsrequired for evaluation of study designs. Thediversity in drone platforms, sensors, andapplications necessitates the reporting of specific details for replication, but there is littleguidance available on how to detail drone use in peer-reviewed articles. Here, we presenta standardized protocol to assist researchers in reporting of their drone use in wildliferesearch. The protocol is delivered in six sections: Project Overview; Drone System andOperation Details; Payload, Sensor, and DataCollection; Field Operation Details; DataPost-Processing; and Permits, Regulations, Training, and Logistics. Each section outlinesthe details that should be included, along with justifications for their inclusion. To facilitateease of use, we have provided two example protocols, retroactively produced for publisheddrone-based studies by the authors of this protocol. Our hopes are that the current versionof this protocol should assist with the communication, dissemination, and adoption ofdrone technology for wildlife research and management.
... This model is a four-rotored helicopter (i.e., quadcopter) with a built-in camera equipped with a three-axis gimbal, an image resolution of 12 megapixels, and 2.7 K video capability with a resolution of 1280 9 1520 pixels. We followed recommended safe flight criteria with at least two personnel present, a certified pilot to control the aircraft and a spotter to monitor the behavior of the birds (Junda et al. 2015). A third person also assisted on all flights to record weather data (e.g., wind speed and cloud cover), approach altitude, nest stage, number of birds present within view of the camera (30-m radius), and flush altitude for any birds present at a nest site. ...
Article
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Remote‐controlled, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can be used to collect information in difficult‐to‐access places while potentially minimizing human disturbance. These devices have been widely used in a variety of ecological and behavioral studies in recent years, but additional study is needed to assess the magnitude of disturbance they cause to birds. We examined the responses of Great Egrets (Ardea alba) to a UAV in a breeding colony in Louisiana in 2016 where isolated patches of common reed (Phragmites australis) were used as nest sites by multiple breeding pairs. We examined the flush responses and flight initiation distances (FIDs) of nesting adults to the direct vertical approach of a UAV. Incubating adults were more likely to flush from nests and flushed at greater distances when approached by a UAV than adults with nestlings, suggesting that adult assessment of risk was based on the greater reproductive value of nestlings. We observed fewer flush responses and calculated lower set‐back distances using a UAV to approach nesting Great Egrets (~50 m) than set‐back distances calculated using traditional methods of approach (e.g., walking or boating; 87–251 m). We found that FIDs were shorter when more adults were present in nesting patches, suggesting that the perception of predation risk may be based in part on the reactions of other birds. Our results suggest that UAVs may be a useful alternative for monitoring colonial‐nesting waterbirds. However, our analyses were based exclusively on behavioral observations. Additional studies of the physiological responses of birds to the approach of UAVs are needed to better understand the stress responses of birds to these devices. Uso de distancia de iniciación de vuelo para evaluar la respuesta de Ardea alba en colonias de anidación a acercamientos por vehículos aéreos no tripulados Los vehículos aéreos no tripulados controlados remotamente (UAV) pueden ser usados para colectar información en lugares de difícil acceso minimizando potencialmente los disturbios por humanos. Estos vehículos han sido ampliamente utilizados recientemente en una variedad de estudios en ecología y comportamiento, pero estudios adicionales son requeridos para determinar la magnitud del disturbio que pueden causar en las aves. Examinamos la respuesta de Ardea alba a UAV en una colonia de reproducción en Luisiana en 2016 donde parches aislados de Phragmites australis eran usados como sitios de anidación por múltiples parejas reproductivas. Examinamos la respuesta de huida y las distancias de iniciación del vuelo (FID) de adultos en anidación al acercamiento directo vertical de un UAV. Los adultos en incubación tuvieron una mayor probabilidad de huir de los nidos y volar a mayores distancias cuando un UAV se acercaba, que los adultos con pichones, sugiriendo que la evaluación del riesgo por los adultos esta basado en el mayor valor reproductivo de los pichones. Observamos menos respuestas de huida de los nidos y estimamos menores distancias de retroceso utilizando UAV como método de acercamiento a nidos de Ardea alba (~50 m) que distancias de retroceso calculados utilizando métodos tradicionales de retroceso (e.g., caminando o en barco; 87–251 m). Encontramos que FIDs fueron mas cortas cuando más adultos estaban presentes en el parche de anidación, sugiriendo que la percepción del riesgo de depredación puede estar basada en parte en las reacciones de otras aves. Nuestros resultados sugieren que los UAVs pueden ser una alternativa útil para monitorear aves acuáticas de anidación colonial. Sin embargo, nuestros análisis estuvieron basados exclusivamente en observaciones de comportamiento. Estudios adicionales sobre las respuestas fisiológicas de las aves al acercamiento por UAVs son necesarias para comprender mejor las respuestas de estrés de las aves a estos dispositivos.
Article
The use of bio-logging, which involves collecting ecosystem data by attaching a small sensor and/or wearable camera to a part of the body of wild animals, is increasing in mammal ecology. Image information taken from an animal's own point of view can provide valuable insights into their behaviors, including their preferred habitats, diet, breeding, and competition. Moreover, wild animal studies using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) also referred to as drones, are increasing especially in recent years. UAS is useful in places inaccessible or inhospitable to researchers, such as deep mountains or above the sea. The presence of species and the number of individuals can be confirmed using the UAS data. However, there are few reports using these methods in primate studies. This review explains what kind of useful information can be obtained in the future for primate researchers studying in the field with reference to previous research and explains the problems and future possibilities of these methods. In the future, technical development and progress is likely to increase the application of animal-borne camera systems and UAS in primate research.
Method
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Ce document a été écrit dans le but d’accompagner les biologistes et techniciens de la faune du ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP), les consultants et les acteurs du milieu dans la réalisation d’inventaires pour le suivi de la nidification et de la productivité du faucon pèlerin (Falco peregrinus) au Québec. Il a été élaboré afin de répondre aux objectifs et aux besoins du Ministère en termes de conservation et de mise en valeur de la faune. Les personnes qui réaliseront des inventaires doivent s’assurer d’utiliser une version à jour du présent document, accessible à l’adresse suivante : https://mffp.gouv.qc.ca/documents/faune/PT_standardise_inventaire_suivi_nidification_productivite_faucon-pelerin.pdf Ce protocole standardisé est également destiné à être utilisé lors d’études d’impact ou d’autres projets nécessitant des suivis ponctuels de nids de faucons pèlerins. Ce document vise aussi à harmoniser l’intrant d’information parvenant au Centre de données sur le patrimoine naturel du Québec (CDPNQ) qui doit compiler les données d’inventaire des régions, des consultants et des divers partenaires. Enfin, ce protocole présente différentes sections dans le but d’outiller l’observateur pour l’élaboration de son plan d’inventaire.
Preprint
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One of the biggest challenges is to determine the deployment and navigation of the drones to benefit the most for different applications. Many research questions have been raised about this topic. For example, drone-enabled wildlife monitoring has received much attention in recent years. Unfortunately, this approach results in significant disturbance to different species of wild animals. Moreover, with the capability of rapidly moving communication supply towards demand when required, the drone equipped with a base station, i.e., drone-cell, is becoming a promising solution for providing cellular networks to victims and rescue teams in disaster-affected areas. However, few studies have investigated the optimal deployments of multiple drone-cells with limited backhaul communication distances. In addition, the use of autonomous drones as flying interactors for many real-life applications has not been sufficiently discussed. With superior maneuverability, drone-enabled autonomous aerial interacting can potentially be used on shark attack prevention and animal herding. Nevertheless, previous studies of autonomous drones have not dealt with such applications in much detail. This report explores the solutions to all the mentioned research questions, with a particular focus on the deployment and navigation of the drones. Simulations have been conducted to verify the effectiveness of the proposed approaches. We believe that our findings in this report shed new light on the fundamental benefits of autonomous civilian drones.
Technical Report
Depuis quelques années, l’utilisation d’un drone dans la recherche écologique est en vogue. En effet, cet outil permet de repérer, cartographier et dénombrer la faune sauvage à distance, en s’affranchissant des contraintes d’accessibilité des milieux étudiés (habitats difficiles d’accès à pied, sites sensibles à la fréquentation humaine terrestre). Pour la première fois en Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, nous avons testé l’utilisation d’un drone, équipé d’une petite caméra, pour localiser les nids de deux espèces de rapaces se reproduisant au sol en Saône-et-Loire : le Busards Cendré (Circus pygargus) dans les cultures céréalières et le Busards des roseaux (Circus aeruginosus) dans les roselières et les parcelles de cariçaie. Nous avons effectué environ trois heures de survol avec un drone hexacoptère ce qui nous a permis de repérer l’ensemble des nids des Busards cendré (7 nids sur 7), et au contraire, de repérer seulement un nid (sur 8 potentiels) de Busard des roseaux. De manière générale, ces tests techniques sont un succès. Aucun des oiseaux n’a montré d’agressivité à l’égard du drone. Cependant le Busard des roseaux a réagi plus rapidement et s’est montré plus curieux que son homologue le Busard cendré à l’approche de l’appareil. En adoptant des bonnes méthodes d’approches et de pilotages, un aéronef semble être un excellent outil complémentaire au suivi de surveillance standardisée pour repérer des nids dans des milieux homogènes, telles que des cultures céréalières. Cependant, celui-ci montre certaines limites quant aux nids situés dans des milieux hétérogènes, telles que des cariçaies/saulaies.
Technical Report
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Depuis quelques années, l’utilisation d’un drone dans la recherche écologique est en vogue. En effet, cet outil permet de repérer, cartographier et dénombrer la faune sauvage à distance, en s’affranchissant des contraintes d’accessibilité des milieux étudiés (habitats difficiles d’accès à pied, sites sensibles à la fréquentation humaine terrestre). Pour la première fois en Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, nous avons testé l’utilisation d’un drone, équipé d’une petite caméra, pour localiser les nids de deux espèces de rapaces se reproduisant au sol en Saône-et-Loire : le Busards Cendré (Circus pygargus) dans les cultures céréalières et le Busards des roseaux (Circus aeruginosus) dans les roselières et les parcelles de cariçaie. Nous avons effectué environ trois heures de survol avec un drone hexacoptère ce qui nous a permis de repérer l’ensemble des nids des Busards cendré (7 nids sur 7), et au contraire, de repérer seulement un nid (sur 8 potentiels) de Busard des roseaux. De manière générale, ces tests techniques sont un succès. Aucun des oiseaux n’a montré d’agressivité à l’égard du drone. Cependant le Busard des roseaux a réagi plus rapidement et s’est montré plus curieux que son homologue le Busard cendré à l’approche de l’appareil. En adoptant des bonnes méthodes d’approches et de pilotages, un aéronef semble être un excellent outil complémentaire au suivi de surveillance standardisée pour repérer des nids dans des milieux homogènes, telles que des cultures céréalières. Cependant, celui-ci montre certaines limites quant aux nids situés dans des milieux hétérogènes, telles que des cariçaies/saulaies.
Article
Drones are becoming more accessible and efficient. This article presents a review of recent scientific literature focusing on their use to study wildlife. The 250 publications consulted were grouped into one of 4 categories: wildlife surveys, the behavioural response of wildlife to drones, the study of wildlife behaviour and wildlife protection. The review highlighted the great potential of drones for helping in the survey of animals, especially birds and mammals, and it also revealed the developments underway to allow their use for studying aquatic fauna, amphibians, reptiles and insects. The main impacts of drones on animals are presented and, based on the available information, preliminary recommendations are made to limit their disturbance to wildlife. Drones have multiple advantages and the rapid development of this technology suggests that several of the current limits to their use will soon be overcome. Finally, elements of the Canadian regulations on the use of drones are presented. In conclusion, in the medium-term, drones have the potential to play a significant role in the protection and management of biodiversity.
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The importance of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in remote sensing is rapidly growing. However, knowledge about their potential impact on wildlife is scant, especially in Antarctica, where they are a new tool used in ecological research and monitoring. In this preliminary study potential effects of wildlife disturbance by fixed-wing UAVs are investigated. In austral summer 2014/15, UAV overflights were conducted in the Adelié penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) breeding colony at Point. Thomas (Western Shore of Admiralty Bay, King George Island, Antarctica, Subarea 48.1). The impacts of electric and piston engine UAVs flying at 350 m altitude above ground level (AGL) over the colony were compared to the undisturbed colony (control group), and to natural disturbance (skua – Stercorarius sp. flying over nesting penguins). Penguin behaviour was divided into: resting behaviour, comfort behaviour, vigilance/anxiety and aggression. Percentages of birds exhibiting different types of behaviour, time spent on each type of behaviour and number of different types of behaviour displayed by one bird during the observation periods were compared. No differences were found between the control group and overflights by electric UAVs. During the overflight by a UAV powered by piston engine, symptoms of vigilance were observed with penguins looking up and around for a few seconds when the UAV was overhead. Similar symptoms of vigilance were observed when skuas flew (approximately 5 m AGL) over penguin colony without trying to attack nesting birds. No increase in aggressive behaviour was observed during the overflights by either electric or piston engine UAVs. Plans for a systematic monitoring of UAV impact on wildlife, as well as preliminary guidelines for the next field season, were formulated.
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Accurately estimating hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) numbers is difficult due to their aggressive nature, amphibious lifestyle, and habit of diving and surfacing. Traditionally, hippos are counted using aerial surveys and land/boat surveys. We compared estimates of numbers of hippos in a lagoon in the Okavango Delta, counted from land to counts from video taken from a DJI Phantom 4TM drone, testing for effectiveness at three heights (40 m, 80 m, and 120 m) and four times of day (early morning, late morning, early afternoon, and late afternoon). In addition, we determined effectiveness for differentiating age classes (juvenile, subadult, and adult), based on visual assessment and measurements from drone images, at different times and heights. Estimates in the pool averaged 9.18 (± 0.25SE, range 1–14, n = 112 counts). Drone counts at 40 m produced the highest counts of hippos, 10.6% higher than land counts and drone counts at 80 m, and 17.6% higher than drone counts at 120 m. Fewer hippos were counted in the early morning, when the hippos were active and most likely submerged, compared to all other times of day, when they tended to rest in shallow water with their bodies exposed. We were able to assign age classes to similar numbers of hippos from land counts and counts at 40 m, although land counts were better at identifying juveniles and subadults. Early morning was the least effective time to age hippos given their active behaviour, increasingly problematic with increasing height. Use of a relatively low-cost drone provided a rigorous and repeatable method for estimating numbers and ages of hippos, other than in the early morning, compared to land counts, considered the most accurate method of counting hippos.
Method
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Ce document a été élaboré dans le but d’accompagner les biologistes et techniciens de la faune du ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP), les consultants et les acteurs du milieu dans la détection et l’identification des tortues à l’aide de drones. Ce protocole ne peut être utilisé pour réaliser des suivis d’abondance puisque la méthode n’a pas encore été testée dans cette optique. Le personnel gouvernemental qui réalisera ces inventaires devra s’assurer que les travaux sont concertés avec le Service de la conservation de la biodiversité et des milieux humides (SCBMH) du MFFP, qui coordonne la recherche et les inventaires menés avec des drones. Les drones visés par le présent protocole sont ceux à voilure rotative de moins de 250 g (microdrones) et ceux dont le poids se situe entre 250 g et 25 kg, munis de capteurs visibles couleurs et d’un GPS. Il n’est toutefois pas exclu qu’un drone à voilure rotative de plus de 25 kg ou un drone à voilure fixe puisse être utilisé pour réaliser des inventaires des tortues. La technologie n’a pas encore été testée pour évaluer la probabilité de détection des tortues d’eau douce. Ainsi, l’absence de détection lors d’un inventaire avec le drone ne peut être considérée avec certitude comme une absence de tortue. Les personnes qui réaliseront des inventaires doivent s’assurer d’utiliser une version à jour du présent document, accessible à l’adresse suivante : https://mffp.gouv.qc.ca/documents/faune/PT_standardise_detection_identification_tortues_drones.pdf Ce protocole standardisé est également destiné à être utilisé lors d’études d’impact ou d’autres projets nécessitant la détection des tortues. Finalement, ce document vise aussi à uniformiser la nature des informations qui parviennent au Centre de données sur le patrimoine naturel du Québec (CDPNQ), qui doit compiler les données d’inventaire des directions régionales, des consultants et des autres partenaires
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Aerial surveys are valuable tools for wildlife research and management. However, problems with safety, cost, statistical integrity, and logistics continue to impede aerial surveys from manned aircraft. The use of small, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) may offer promise for addressing these problems and become a useful tool for many wildlife applications, such as for collecting low-altitude aerial imagery. During 2002 and 2003, we used a 1.5-m wingspan UAV equipped with autonomous control and sophisticated video equipment to test the potential usefulness of such an aircraft for wildlife research applications in Florida, USA. The UAV we used completed >30 missions (missions averaging 13 km linear distance covered) over 2 years before finally crashing due to engine failure. The UAV captured high-quality, progressive-scan video of a number of landscapes and wildlife species (white ibis [Eudocimus albus], other white wading birds, American alligator [Alligator mississippiensis], and Florida manatee [Trichechus manatus]). The UAV system was unable to collect georeferenced imagery and was difficult to deploy in unimproved areas. The performance of the autonomous control system and the quality of the progressive-scan imagery indicated strong promise for future UAVs as useful field tools. For small UAVs to be useful as management or research tools, they should be durable, modular, electric powered, launchable and recoverable in rugged terrain, autonomously controllable, operable with minimal training, and collect georeferenced imagery.
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Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) may soon represent a viable option for use in a variety of wildlife research and management applications. This M.Sc. thesis presents an assessment of a small stock UAV system, the CropCam, as a wildlife research instrument in terms of measured performance in specific trial missions and general capacity to meet certain practical requirements. The UAV proved effective for surveying flocks of snow geese (Chen caerulescens), though ineffective for Canada geese (Branta canadensis), and carried out censuses without disturbing birds. It was variably successful at detecting black bears (Ursus americanus), woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and grey wolves (Canis lupus) in pseudo-natural enclosures, and factors affecting their visibility were analyzed. The UAV is affordable, portable and relatively easy to use, however it is difficult to master, prone to sustaining damage and functionally restricted by camera performance, range and landing site requirements. Promising results demonstrated in this study combined with rapid ongoing development of UAV markets warrant further exploration of wildlife research and management applications.
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From 1983 to 1986 I visited 26 Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) nests in east-central and southeastern Colorado. I estimated the closest distance that each defending adult approached, and recorded the number of calls that each bird gave and the number of times it dived while I was at the base of the nest tree for a 10-min period and subsequently at the nest for a 5-min period. The age and number of young in the nest, the height of the nest above the ground, and whether one or both adults were present were used as potential predictors of the intensity of nest-defense behavior. Nestling age was a significant predictor of call rate of the closest adult and nest height was a significant predictor of call rate of the farthest adult while I was at the base of the nest tree. Dive rate and closest approach were not significantly related to any measured variable. No independent variable was significantly related to nest-defense intensity while I was at the nest, however, dive rate increased and closest approach decreased when I was at the nest compared to when I was on the ground. These observations are only in part consistent with current theoretical models that predict patterns of nest-defense intensity in altricial birds.
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Reproductive performance of osprey (Pandion haliaetus) has been used as an indicator of health of populations and aquatic ecosystems. Reproductive output is usually assessed by a mid-May aerial survey of nest occupancy, followed by a mid-July aerial count of chicks, but measurement error margins have not been investigated. In 1992-93, we compared independent counts of chicks made from fixed- and rotor-wing aircraft by 2 observers in 2 study areas on Lake Huron, each supporting 30-40 occupied nests. Fixed-wing surveys underestimated total chick numbers (P = 0.03), but rotor-wing survey counts by both observers did not differ from actual nest contents (P = 0.7). Variation between observers in chick totals was greater on fixed-wing surveys than on rotor-wing surveys. From rotor-wing aircraft, we could differentiate some dead chicks from live chicks. Nestling mortality after mid-July was unexpectedly high in 1 study area and 18% overall. Osprey productivity data should not be interpreted without considering measurement error and post-survey nestling mortality.
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Small off-the-shelf unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) could prove useful for surveying waterbirds. A low-end model was evaluated for surveying flocks of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) and Snow Geese (Chen caerulescens) by comparing photographic counts from repeated flybys to repeated visual ground counts. Due to low contrast of Canada Geese with the ground, UAS counts based on confident detections only had a lower mean than ground counts for five out of six flocks (> 30% lower for three flocks) and coefficients of variation (CV) ranging from 11-106%, compared to 1-6% for ground counts. Conversely, UAS counts of high-contrast Snow Geese were 60% higher on average and less variable (CV = 1-6%) than ground counts (CV = 11%). In some cases the aircraft likely detected birds that were not seen from the ground due to an obstructed view. Shortcomings of the UAS were mainly related to its unsophisticated imaging system compared to more expensive models. Otherwise, the UAS proved capable of being conveniently transported and deployed over flocks without causing them to flush. Further consideration should be given to off-the-shelf UAS for surveying waterbirds over small areas (< 5-km radius) that are difficult to survey from the ground or as an option for performing low-disturbance surveys.
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We believe that the advantages of aerial survey with helicopters far outweigh the disadvantages. Disturbance may be less than that caused by entering on foot. Statistical validity is greatly increased as is understanding of the gestalt of the population. Although other raptors may react in a different manner to helicopter obser- vations, our impressions are that little damage is done by aerial vehicles used in the manner we have described for collecting data from the raptor species we have mentioned. Additionally one should be aware that although the cost, on a per hour basis, for helicopters may be considered expensive, it may prove no more expensive than the cost of outfitting and supporting a field party when the differential of time and efficiency are compared.
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Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are remote-controlled devices capable of collecting information from difficult-to-access places while minimizing disturbance. Although UAS are increasingly used in many research disciplines, their application to wildlife research remains to be explored in depth. Here, we report on the use of a small UAS to monitor temporal changes in breeding population size in a Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus colony. This method makes it possible to obtain georeferenced data on nest locations without causing colony disturbance, which would not otherwise be possible via direct ground observations.
Raptor reproductive success: Some problems with methods, criteria, and terminology
  • S Postupalsky
  • F Sarda-Palomera
  • G Bota
  • C Vincolo
  • O Pallares
  • V Sazatornil
  • L Brotons
  • S Gomariz
  • F Sarda
Postupalsky, S. 1974. Raptor reproductive success: Some problems with methods, criteria, and terminology. Raptor Res. Rep. 2: 21-31. Sarda-Palomera, F., Bota, G., Vincolo, C., Pallares, O., Sazatornil, V., Brotons, L., Gomariz, S., and Sarda, F. 2012. Fine-scale bird monitoring from light unmanned aircraft systems. Ibis. 154: 177-183. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2011.01177.x.
Assessing nesting success and productivity. Raptor research and management techniques. D. Bird and K
  • K Steenhof