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Best practice for minimising unmanned aerial vehicle disturbance to wildlife in biological field research



The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), colloquially referred to as 'drones', for biological field research is increasing [1-3]. Small, civilian UAVs are providing a viable, economical tool for ecology researchers and environmental managers. UAVs are particularly useful for wildlife observation and monitoring as they can produce systematic data of high spatial and temporal resolution [4]. However, this new technology could also have undesirable and unforeseen impacts on wildlife, the risks of which we currently have little understanding [5-7]. There is a need for a code of best practice in the use of UAVs to mitigate or alleviate these risks, which we begin to develop here.
Current Biology
R404 Current Biology 26, R387–R407, May 23, 2016 © 2016 Elsevier Ltd.
moved around and sat near the site for
about 2 minutes, after which he left with
the rest of the group.
This report complements accounts
of responses to dying and dead
individuals in four other wild primate
species (Table S2). Multiple factors
probably contribute to the variable
nature of responses recorded, including
the cause and context of death, quality
of the social relationships between the
deceased and other group members
[7,8], and possibly species-typical social
organization. The snub-nosed monkey
DM migrated into ZBD’s unit in October
2010. The strong bond between DM
and ZBD over the subsequent three-
year period (DM gave birth to one infant
in March 2012) likely underpinned the
caretaking behaviors shown by the
male toward the dying female, recalling
similar behavior in chimpanzees [4,8]
and a male marmoset [9].
Both ZBD and other members of his
OMU uttered alarm calls and contact
calls as the female lay dying. Alarm
calls are usually given in response
to danger (such as the approach of
a dog) on the ground. Conceivably,
DM’s sudden fall from the tree and
her unusual behavior as she lay
dying aroused some degree of fear or
anxiety in the monkeys, as reported
in other cases of sudden, traumatic
deaths [5,9]. ‘Unexplained’ deaths
and deaths resulting from obvious
injury elicit different responses in
chimpanzees [5].
No individuals other than members
of her own OMU contacted the
dying female. In another species
characterized by OMUs — geladas — a
dying adult female also received only
passing visual attention from other
OMU members [10]. Furthermore,
although affi liative acts toward the dying
DM were seen in all members of the
focal OMU, only the adult male tended
her after she died, further supporting
the expression of compassion by an
individual with a strong bond to the
deceased. His responses included
exploration, attempts to elicit a
response from the female, and affi liative
acts including embracing (Table S3).
These observations, combined with
others in the literature, suggest that
compassionate caretaking is not unique
to humans and great apes [2–5], at least
when dying individuals and survivors
share an emotional bond.
Supplemental Information includes Experimen-
tal Procedures and three Tables and can be
found with this article online at http://dx.doi.
The study was supported by the Key Program
of National Natural Science Fund ( 31130061),
National Natural Science Foundation of China
( 31572278, 31270442,31470456,31501872),
Special Foundation of Shaanxi Academy of
Sciences, China ( 2014K-29). The funding
organizations had no role in study design, data
collection and analysis, decision to publish,
or preparation of the manuscript. We thank
Zhouzhi National Nature Reserve for permission
to carry out this study. We greatly appreciate our
eld assistants for indispensable support during
this study, especially students from the Primate
Research Center of Northwest University China .
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K., and Li, B.G. (2011). Sexual interference in
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1Shaanxi Key Laboratory for Animal
Conservation, Shaanxi Institute of Zoology,
Shaanxi Academy of Sciences, Xi’an 710032,
China. 2Department of Psychology, Kyoto
University Graduate School of Letters, Kyoto
606-8501, Japan. 3Shaanxi Key Laboratory
for Animal Conservation, and College of Life
Sciences, Northwest University, Xi’an 710069,
China. 4Co-fi rst authors.
Best practice
for minimising
unmanned aerial
vehicle disturbance
to wildlife in
biological fi eld
Jarrod C. Hodgson* and Lian Pin Koh
The use of unmanned aerial vehicles
(UAVs), colloquially referred to as
‘drones’, for biological fi eld research is
increasing [1–3]. Small, civilian UAVs are
providing a viable, economical tool for
ecology researchers and environmental
managers. UAVs are particularly useful
for wildlife observation and monitoring
as they can produce systematic data
of high spatial and temporal resolution
[4]. However, this new technology could
also have undesirable and unforeseen
impacts on wildlife, the risks of which
we currently have little understanding
[5–7]. There is a need for a code of best
practice in the use of UAVs to mitigate or
alleviate these risks, which we begin to
develop here.
Different wildlife populations can
respond idiosyncratically to a UAV
in proximity depending on a variety
of factors, including the species,
environmental and historical context, as
well as the type of UAV and its method
of operation. While we do not presently
have suffi cient information on how these
factors might affect wildlife to develop
prescriptive policies for UAV use, we
could draw from existing guidelines for
ensuring the ethical treatment of animals
in research [8,9]. For example, the
ARRIVE (Animals in Research: Reporting
In Vivo Experiments) guidelines detail
the minimum information all scientifi c
publications reporting research using
laboratory animals should include [10],
which may serve as a good starting point
for the UAV context.
Considering the growing popularity of
UAVs as a tool among fi eld biologists, we
advocate for the precautionary principle
to manage these risks. Specifi cally, we
provide a suite of recommendations as
the basis for a code of best practice in
Current Biology
Current Biology 26, R387–R407, May 23, 2016 R405
the use of UAVs in the vicinity of animals
or for the purpose of animal research,
which supplement current standards in
animal fi eld research and reporting.
Adopt the precautionary principle
in lieu of evidence. When researchers
cannot make informed decisions about
minimum wildlife disturbance fl ight
practices for their environment or study
species, they should exercise caution,
particularly if endangered species
or ecologically sensitive habitats are
involved. While reported observations of
animal responses to UAVs are increasing,
there is a need for more empirical
evidence across a range of animals and
environments. Experiments that ethically
quantify disturbance using captive and
wild animals to fi ll this knowledge gap
are necessary to inform minimum wildlife
disturbance practices. As an interim
measure, expert advice on species and
UAV monitoring should be obtained
for operations involving taxa whose
responses to UAVs are poorly quantifi ed
or unknown.
Utilise the institutional animal
ethics process to provide oversight
to UAV-derived animal observations
and experiments. UAV monitoring
that involves animals will benefi t
from ensuring all UAV methods are in
accordance with approved institutional
ethics permits. We encourage UAV users
to seek this approval when appropriate
and explain the anticipated benefi t of
using UAV technology in their situation.
Ethics committees should evaluate these
claims relative to comparative traditional
techniques (e.g. ground surveys or
remotely sensed data from an alternative,
higher altitude platform such as manned
aircraft or satellites).
Adhere to relevant civil aviation rules
and adopt equipment maintenance
and operator training schedules.
UAV operations need to comply with all
relevant civil aviation rules which may
include restrictions on fl ying beyond
visual line of sight, above a defi ned
altitude, at night and near people or in
the vicinity of important infrastructure
and prohibited areas. In countries
where rules are not present or are still
evolving, operators are encouraged to
exercise caution. UAV equipment should
be regularly serviced to ensure good
working order, and maintenance recorded
appropriately. Experienced operators
should be utilised for UAV operations
(formal accreditation is necessary in
some countries). Where appropriate,
approval for fl ight should be sought from
indigenous communities.
Select appropriate UAV and sensor
equipment. UAVs should be selected
to minimise visual and audio stimulus to
target and non-target organisms, while
remaining capable of satisfying study
objectives. Consideration should be
given to the way different units move
(e.g. the gliding motion of a fi xed-wing
unit) as well as their shape, volume and
colour relative to the study environment.
In some cases, it may be benefi cial to
modify UAVs to mimic non-threatening
wildlife, e.g. a bird that is not a predator
of the target species. Sensors should be
optimised (e.g. focal length) to enable
collection of suitable data from a UAV
operated, typically, as high or as far as
possible from the subjects.
Exercise minimum wildlife
disturbance fl ight practices. Particular
attention should be given to siting launch
and recovery sites away from animals
(out of sight if possible) and maintaining
a reasonable distance from animals at all
times during fl ight. Potentially threatening
approach trajectories and sporadic fl ight
movements should be avoided. Species-
specifi c protocols, including optimum
ight altitude, should be developed and
implemented wherever possible.
Cease UAV operations if they
are excessively disruptive. Animal
responses should be measured during
UAV operations (and before and after if
possible). Monitoring stress response at
a physiological level is encouraged, as is
the use of tracking technology to quantify
potential displacement. Operations
should be aborted if excessive
disturbance results, especially in cases
when quantifi cation of UAV disturbance
is not a research interest. The methods
for such studies should be reviewed and
only resumed with a refi ned protocol if
justifi able.
Detailed, accurate reporting of
methods and results in publications.
UAV specifi cations and fl ight practices
should be reported accurately and
in full. Thorough results should be
reported to ensure fi ndings can be
integrated in future research. Notes of
animal responses (see above) should be
included in published studies to generate
an evidence base for refi ned guidelines.
We encourage authors to be proactive
in sharing suggestions for improving
UAV best practices in biological fi eld
research and also to guide the regulation
of recreational use. Importantly, such
reports should include both positive
and negative observations, including
accidents during operations and
incidents of excessive disturbances to
animals. Publishers may wish to consider
minimum reporting requirements for
manuscripts that involve UAV operations.
Promoting the awareness,
development and uptake of a code of
best practice in the use of UAVs will
improve their suitability as a low impact
ecological survey tool. We consider this
code to be a fi rst and guiding step in
the development of species-specifi c
protocols that mitigate or alleviate
potential UAV disturbance to wildlife.
J.C.H. and L.P.K. conceived and wrote the paper.
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research and management methods in the
21st century: Where do unmanned aircraft fi t in?1.
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M.A., Wilkinson, B.E., Szantoi, Z., Ifju, P.G., and
Percival, H.F. (2010). Small unmanned aircraft
systems for low-altitude aerial surveys. J. Wildlife
Management 74, 1614–1619.
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Lightweight unmanned aerial vehicles will
revolutionize spatial ecology. Front. Ecol. Environ.
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4. Linchant, J., Lisein, J., Semeki, J., Lejeune, P.,
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systems (UASs) the future of wildlife monitoring?
A review of accomplishments and challenges.
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drones: fi rst experiments and ethical guidelines.
Biol. Lett. 11, 20140754.
6. Ditmer, M.A., Vincent, J.B., Werden, L.K., Tanner,
J.C., Laske, T.G., Iaizzo, P.A., Garshelis, D.L., and
Fieberg, J.R. (2015). Bears show a physiological
but limited behavioral response to unmanned
aerial vehicles. Curr. Biol. 25, 2278–2283.
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and molt in the UK1. J. Unmanned Vehicle
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A.S. (2011). Guidelines of the American Society
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research. J. Mammal. 92, 235–253.
9. National Health and Medical Research Council
(2013). Australian code for the care and use
of animals for scientifi c purposes. 8th Edition
(Canberra: National Health and Medical Research
10. Kilkenny, C., Browne, W.J., Cuthill, I.C.,
Emerson, M., and Altman, D.G. (2010). Improving
bioscience research reporting: the ARRIVE
guidelines for reporting animal research. PLoS
Biol. 8, e1000412.
School of Biological Sciences, The University
of Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.
... Les opérations avec des drones ne sont pas exemptes d'accidents, ce qui peut compromettre la viabilité de certains projets (López et Mulero-Pázmány, 2019;Semel et coll., 2020). C'est alors que la formation, le maintien de la certification, l'entraînement et la mise à niveau des connaissances et habiletés du pilote prennent toute leur importance (Hodgson et Koh, 2016 (Gouvernement du Canada, 2019), les drones se classent en trois catégories selon leur poids :  Catégorie 1 : les drones de moins de 250 g (microdrones);  Catégorie 2 : les drones de plus de 250 g mais de moins de 25 kg;  Catégorie 3 : les drones de plus de 25 kg. ...
... Le choix des capteurs est très important pour atteindre les objectifs des études (Hodgson et Koh, 2016). Pour la plupart des inventaires fauniques, une simple caméra couleur (RGB) sera suffisante (Nowak et coll., 2018). ...
... Ils affirment également que les activités récréatives pourraient être une plus grande source d'impact sur la faune que les activités scientifiques. Cela s'explique par le fait que les chercheurs doivent être plus prudents lors de l'approche d'un animal, car ils sont soumis à des protocoles de recherche visant à réduire les impacts du drone sur les espèces étudiées (Hodgson et Koh, 2016). ...
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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 : 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
... Drone-derived estimates of seabird colony sizes have been reported to be more precise than traditional ground-based counts (Hodgson et al., 2018;Dundas et al., 2021;Valle & Scarton, 2019b;Corregidor-Castro et al., 2021;Valle, 2021;but see afán et al., 2018 for different conclusions). a growing body of evidence suggests that future studies on population monitoring will probably use drones along with, and even instead of, traditional methods for bird census activities, since drones help answer many specific questions on bird biology (Hodgson & Koh, 2016;mulero-Pázmány et al., 2017;Valle & Scarton, 2019a). ...
... Potencjalnie, najbardziej narażoną grupą zwierząt są ptaki ze względu na korzystanie z tej samej przestrzeni użytkowej (Hogson, Koh 2016). Obecnie, stopień zrozumienia tego ryzyka jest na stosunkowo niskim poziomie, co podkreślają autorzy wielu prac z literatury przedmiotu Loty przy użyciu platformy bezzałogowej odbyły się w dniach 12 stycznia 2022 roku oraz 30 kwietnia 2022 roku. ...
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... All drone flights were conducted at an altitude of 12 m to further increase detection probability and ensure identification of target species while retaining a broader spatial coverage. Minimum disturbance flight practices were exercised through optimal altitude testing and avoidance of sporadic flight movements (Hodgson and Koh, 2016). All surveys were conducted in the morning (0600 to 1100) to maintain comparability in results and to decrease sun glare in UAV footage. ...
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Effective conservation strategies are founded by baseline information on abundance and diversity estimates. Method choice can influence the success of baseline surveys as method performance is variable and needs to be selected based on habitat and taxa. Here, we assess the suitability of unoccupied aerial vehicle (UAV) surveys, specifically multi-rotor "drones" , and baited remote underwater video (BRUV) surveys in shallow-water habitats to quantify elasmobranch abundance and diversity in the Saudi Arabian central Red Sea. Our results show that the number of elasmobranchs h −1 observed using UAV surveys exceeded that of BRUV surveys by two orders of magnitude, indicating that the increased spatial coverage of UAV surveys is beneficial for long-term monitoring projects. BRUV surveys detected a greater number of species within reef habitats, whereas UAV surveys detected a greater number of species within sandflat habitats, indicating the value of multi-method approaches for regional biodiversity studies. Here, we provide the first insight into elasmobranchs associated with sandflat habitats in Saudi Arabia, emphasising the importance of these habitats to stingrays and the need for further information on elasmobranch habitat use to better inform management and conservation efforts in the face of rapid coastal developments across the Red Sea.
... This study suggests that drones could be perceived as low risk, indicating they may serve as an appropriate tool for surveys of these species with low levels of disturbance, unlike other stressful sources. Recent works, such as Hodgson and Koh [58] and Mulero-Pázmány et al. [25], have suggested a number of standards to minimize the impacts of drones on wildlife by selecting small and silent drone units and experienced pilots, as well as considering the best practices during operations (e.g., perform short missions, fly as high as possible, do not maneuver over wildlife, and monitor target individuals before, during, and after the flight). However, as our study also suggests, not all species and individuals respond the same way to drone disturbance and are not under the same risk of predation, which could also change over time and space and be affected by the type of drone or operational conditions. ...
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... By flying at an altitude of 35-40 m, important information about the size, health and behavior of marine animals can be gathered (Durban et al., 2015;Pomeroy et al., 2015;Vincent et al., 2020). Given that different marine animals respond differently to drones (Brisson-Curadeau et al., 2017;Christiansen et al., 2020a;Christiansen et al., 2016b;Edney and Wood, 2021;Goldbogen et al., 2019;Ramos et al., 2018;Rümmler et al., 2018;Smith et al., 2016), flight plans need to minimize drone disturbance to wildlife by considering not only the target species but also the more vulnerable or sensitive species that may be encountered (Hodgson and Koh, 2016;Vincent et al., 2020). In addition, even within species, physiological or behavioral responses to drones vary across different life history periods (breeding stages are more sensitive to disturbance) or group sizes (larger groups appear to be less susceptible to disturbance); thus, the flight altitude of an appropriate type of drone needs to be optimized based on the status of the subject and the targeted objectives of the study (Edney and Wood, 2021;Vincent et al., 2020;Weimerskirch et al., 2018). ...
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In the field of species conservation, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) is increasing in popularity as wildlife observation and monitoring tools. With large datasets created by UAV-based species surveying, the need arose to automate the detection process of the species. Although the use of computer learning algorithms for wildlife detection from UAV-derived imagery is an increasing trend, it depends on a large amount of imagery of the species to train the object detector effectively. However, there are alternatives like object-based image analysis (OBIA) software available if a large amount of imagery of the species is not available to develop a computer-learned object detector. The study tested the semi-automated detection of reintroduced Arabian Oryx (O. leucoryx), using the specie's coat sRGB-colour profiles as input for OBIA to identify adult O. leucoryx, applied to UAV acquired imagery. Our method uses lab-measured spectral reflection of hair sample values, collected from captive O. leucoryx as an input for OBIA ruleset to identify adult O. leucoryx from UAV survey imagery using semi-automated supervised classification. The converted mean CIE Lab reflective spectrometry colour values of n = 50 hair samples of adult O. leucoryx to 8-bit sRGB-colour profiles of the species resulted in the red-band value of 157.450, the green-band value of 151.390 and blue-band value of 140.832. The sRGB values and a minimum size permitter were added as the input of the OBIA ruleset identified adult O. leucoryx with a high degree of efficiency when applied to three UAV census datasets. Using species sRGB-colour profiles to identify re-introduced O. leucoryx and extract location data using a non-invasive UAV-based tool is a novel method with enormous application possibilities. Coat refection sRGB-colour profiles can be developed for a range of species and customised to autodetect and classify the species from remote sensing data.
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We are in the midst of a global turn to the drone. While domestic drones are the subject of increasing scrutiny-most often along lines of surveillance and privacy, security, and safety, the issue of drone noise and its impacts remains comparatively under-studied. Exploring the drone as it enters and is poised to punctuate UK airspace, this report reflects on the diversity of actors (human and nonhuman), spaces (urban and rural), and understandings (commercial, regulatory, public) of the issue and impacts of drone noise. In so doing, it centrally argues that drone noise is multiple; it is at once contextual (i.e. dependent on both the geographical location, type of land use, and type of drone operation), subjective (i.e. varying by person as well as community), and shifting (i.e. not a static issue). In developing this discussion, it at once demonstrates the value of engaging with interdisciplinary drone scholarship, and aims to raise questions of the political, social, and cultural dimensions of drone noise more widely.
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The Vulnerable marsh deer Blastocerus dichotomus, the largest native cervid in South America, is declining throughout its range as a result of the conversion of wetlands and overhunting. Estimated densities in open wetlands of several types are 0.1–6.8 individuals per km2. We undertook the first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) survey of the marsh deer to estimate the density of this species in a 113.6 km2 area under forestry management in the lower delta of the Paraná River, Argentina. During 6–8 August 2019, at a time of year when canopy cover is minimal, we surveyed marsh deer using Phantom 4 Pro UAVs along 94 transects totalling 127.8 km and 8.6 km2 (8.1% of the study area). The 5,506 photographs obtained were manually checked by us and by a group of 39 trained volunteers, following a standardized protocol. We detected a total of 58 marsh deer, giving an estimated density of 6.90 individuals per km2 (95% CI 5.26–8.54), which extrapolates to 559–908 individuals in our 113.6 km2 study area. As it has generally been assumed that marsh deer prefer open habitats, this relatively high estimate of density within a forestry plantation matrix is unexpected. We discuss the advantages of using UAVs to survey marsh deer and other related ungulates.
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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.
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Wildlife biology applications of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are extensive. Survey, identification, and measurement using UAS equipped with appropriate sensors can now be added to the suite of techniques available for monitoring animals – here we detail our experiences in using UAS to obtain detailed information from groups of seals, which can be difficult to observe from land. Trial flights to survey gray and harbor seals using a range of different platforms and imaging systems have been carried out with varying success at a number of sites in Scotland over the last two years. The best performing UAS system was determined by site, field situation, and the data required. Our systems routinely allow relative abundance, species, age–class, and individual identity to be obtained from images currently, with measures of body size also obtainable but open to refinement. However, the impacts of UAS on target species can also be variable and should be monitored closely. We found variable responses to UAS flights, possibly related to the animals’ experience of previous disturbance. The main part of our trials featured two UAS systems (i) Cinestar 6 and (ii) Vulcan 8 multicopters (n = 34 and 25, respectively, Table 1, Figs. 1a and 1b, respectively). The newer platform (Vulcan 8) uses slower Tiger motors and larger propellers offering an increase of 50%–100% on previous flying time, a critical factor in positioning and time over animals to obtain useful images. In general, the noise from UAS is related to the number of motors, and although positioning and speed of motors and propeller size and pitch have an effect, there was no doubt that the Vulcan 8 is noisier than the Cinestar 6.
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Regular monitoring of animal populations must be established to ensure wildlife protection, especially when pressure on animals is high. The recent development of drones or unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) opens new opportunities. UASs have several advantages, including providing data at high spatial and temporal resolution, providing systematic, permanent data, having low operational costs and being low-risk for the operators. However, UASs have some constraints, such as short flight endurance.We reviewed studies in which wildlife populations were monitored by using drones, described accomplishments to date and evaluated the range of possibilities UASs offer to provide new perspectives in future research.We focused on four main topics: 1) the available systems and sensors; 2) the types of survey plan and detection possibilities; 3) contributions towards anti-poaching surveillance; and 4) legislation and ethics.We found that small fixed-wing UASs are most commonly used because these aircraft provide a viable compromise between price, logistics and flight endurance. The sensors are typically electro-optic or infrared cameras, but there is the potential to develop and test new sensors.Despite various flight plan possibilities, mostly classical line transects have been employed, and it would be of great interest to test new methods to adapt to the limitations of UASs. Detection of many species is possible, but statistical approaches are unavailable if valid inventories of large mammals are the purpose.Contributions of UASs to anti-poaching surveillance are not yet well documented in the scientific literature, but initial studies indicate that this approach could make important contributions to conservation in the next few years.Finally, we conclude that one of the main factors impeding the use of UASs is legislation. Restrictions in the use of airspace prevent researchers from testing all possibilities, and adaptations to the relevant legislation will be necessary in future.
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Guidelines for use of wild mammal species are updated from the American Society of Mammalogists (ASM) 2007 publication. These revised guidelines cover current professional techniques and regulations involving mammals used in research and teaching. They incorporate additional resources, summaries of procedures, and reporting requirements not contained in earlier publications. Included are details on marking, housing, trapping, and collecting mammals. It is recommended that institutional animal care and use committees (IACUCs), regulatory agencies, and investigators use these guidelines as a resource for protocols involving wild mammals. These guidelines were prepared and approved by the ASM, working with experienced professional veterinarians and IACUCs, whose collective expertise provides a broad and comprehensive understanding of the biology of nondomesticated mammals in their natural environments. The most current version of these guidelines and any subsequent modifications are available at the ASM Animal Care and Use Committee page of the ASM Web site (
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Unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly called drones, are being increasingly used in ecological research, in particular to approach sensitive wildlife in inaccessible areas. Impact studies leading to recommendations for best practices are urgently needed. We tested the impact of drone colour, speed and flight angle on the behavioural responses of mallards Anas platyrhynchos in a semi-captive situation, and of wild flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) and common greenshanks (Tringa nebularia) in a wetland area. We performed 204 approach flights with a quadricopter drone, and during 80% of those we could approach unaffected birds to within 4 m. Approach speed, drone colour and repeated flights had no measurable impact on bird behaviour, yet they reacted more to drones approaching vertically. We recommend launching drones farther than 100 m from the birds and adjusting approach distance according to species. Our study is a first step towards a sound use of drones for wildlife research. Further studies should assess the impacts of different drones on other taxa, and monitor physiological indicators of stress in animals exposed to drones according to group sizes and reproductive status.
A quick guide on comparative thanatology, the study of death and dying, particular how individuals respond to a conspecific's death, across animal phylogeny.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have the potential to revolutionize the way research is conducted in many scientific fields [1, 2]. UAVs can access remote or difficult terrain [3], collect large amounts of data for lower cost than traditional aerial methods, and facilitate observations of species that are wary of human presence [4]. Currently, despite large regulatory hurdles [5], UAVs are being deployed by researchers and conservationists to monitor threats to biodiversity [6], collect frequent aerial imagery [7-9], estimate population abundance [4, 10], and deter poaching [11]. Studies have examined the behavioral responses of wildlife to aircraft [12-20] (including UAVs [21]), but with the widespread increase in UAV flights, it is critical to understand whether UAVs act as stressors to wildlife and to quantify that impact. Biologger technology allows for the remote monitoring of stress responses in free-roaming individuals [22], and when linked to locational information, it can be used to determine events [19, 23, 24] or components of an animal's environment [25] that elicit a physiological response not apparent based on behavior alone. We assessed effects of UAV flights on movements and heart rate responses of free-roaming American black bears. We observed consistently strong physiological responses but infrequent behavioral changes. All bears, including an individual denned for hibernation, responded to UAV flights with elevated heart rates, rising as much as 123 beats per minute above the pre-flight baseline. It is important to consider the additional stress on wildlife from UAV flights when developing regulations and best scientific practices. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Compassionate caretaking behaviour towards dying adult group members has been reported as being unique to humans and chimpanzees. Here we describe in detail the reaction of a wild dominant male common marmoset, a neotropical primate, to the accidental death of the dominant female of its group. The male exhibited behaviours towards the dying female that resembled those of chimpanzees and humans. The long-term relationship between the dominant pair (which lasted at least 3.5 years) and their social status in the group may have contributed to the male's behavioural response. The male prevented young individuals from approaching the dying female, behaviour previously observed in chimpanzees. The data provide an interesting insight into compassionate caretaking behaviours in New World primates as well as the pair-bond systems of common marmosets. These are rare observations, and thus their detailed descriptions are essential if we are to create a comparative and enhanced understanding of human and nonhuman primate thanatology.