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Type: Journal article
Title: Drones count wildlife more accurately and precisely than humans
Author: Hodgson, J.
Mott, R.
Baylis, S.
Pham, T.
Wotherspoon, S.
Kilpatrick, A.
Raja Segaran, R.
Reid, I.
Terauds, A.
Koh, L.
Citation: Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 2018; 9(5):1160-1167
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons
Issue Date: 2018
ISSN: 2041-210X
Statement of
Jarrod C. Hodgson, Rowan Mott, Shane M. Baylis, Trung T. Pham, Simon Wotherspoon, Adam D. Kilpatrick, Ramesh Raja Segaran, Ian Reid, Aleks Terauds, Lian Pin Koh
Abstract: 1. Knowing how many individuals are in a wildlife population allows informed management decisions to be made. Ecologists are increasingly using technologies, such as remotely piloted aircraft (RPA; commonly known as “drones,” unmanned aerial systems or unmanned aerial vehicles), for wildlife monitoring applications. Although RPA are widely touted as a cost-effective way to collect high-quality wildlife population data, the validity of these claims is unclear. 2. Using life-sized, replica seabird colonies containing a known number of fake birds, we assessed the accuracy of RPA-facilitated wildlife population monitoring compared to the traditional ground-based counting method. The task for both approaches was to count the number of fake birds in each of 10 replica seabird colonies. 3. We show that RPA-derived data are, on average, between 43% and 96% more accurate than the traditional ground-based data collection method. We also demonstrate that counts from this remotely sensed imagery can be semi-automated with a high degree of accuracy. 4. 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.
Keywords: Bird; drones; ecology; population monitoring; remotely piloted aircraft; surveys; unmanned aerial vehicle; wildlife
Rights: © 2018 The Authors. Methods in Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
RMID: 0030083117
DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12974
Appears in Collections:Ecology, Evolution and Landscape Science publications

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