Drones are helping scientists fight wildlife extinction

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Drones may be a powerful tool for preserving endangered species.

Researchers in Australia suggest which counting wildlife using drones is usually more accurate than traditional methods, according to a paper published on Tuesday from the British Ecological Society journal “Methods in Ecology along with also Evolution.”

Counting a species is usually crucial to conservation efforts.

“With so many animals across the planet facing extinction, our need for accurate wildlife data has never been greater,” said Jarrod Hodgson, lead author of the research paper along with also Ph.D candidate at the University of Adelaide’s School of Biological Sciences. “Accurate monitoring can detect modest alterations in animal numbers. which is usually important because if we had to wait for a big shift in those numbers to notice the decline, This particular might be too late to conserve a threatened species.”

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Drones have previously been used to monitor different animals, such as elephants along with also nesting birds. although This particular was uncertain how accurate drones were for counting species, according to the researchers.

To test the method, the team created fake bird colonies on a beach in Adelaide, Australia, using 2,000 decoy ducks. They were modeled after Crested Tern seabirds.

Wildlife experts on the ground counted the fake birds with binoculars along with also telescopes, while a drone flew overhead along with also took pictures. Another group of scientists counted the number of birds they could see via the drone images.

counting birds with drones
Jarred Hodgson, lead author of the research paper, stands having a fake bird colony.

“In a wild population, the true number of individuals is usually not known. This particular makes This particular very difficult to test the accuracy of a counting approach,” Hodgson told sy88pgw Tech. “We needed to test the technology where we knew the correct answer.”

The researchers found which the drone approach was more precise than counting on the ground.

Because counting species in photographs is usually time intensive, the researchers also trained a computer algorithm to count the birds automatically. Those results were nearly as accurate as scientists reviewing the photos, according to the team.

crested tern colony
A real Crested Tern colony.

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The research paper was co-authored by scientists via the University of Adelaide, Australian Antarctic Division, University of Tasmania along with also Monash University.

Hodgson said the researchers are still learning about how wildlife reacts to the presence of drones.

“The results will help to refine along with also improve drone monitoring protocols doing sure which drones have minimal to non-existent impact on wildlife,” he said. “This particular is usually particularly important for species which are prone to disturbance along with also where traditional methods involving close proximity to species are not possible or desirable.”

The researchers are planning a similar drone test to monitor different species of seals along with also to detect the nests or tracks of difficult-to-observe animals.

Drones aren’t the only technology scientists are using to count wildlife populations.

Last year, a group of researchers via the British Antarctic Survey along with also Canterbury Museum in brand new Zealand demonstrated which albatross birds can be seen along with also counted via space using high-resolution satellite imagery. Albatrosses, a type of big seabird, are one of the most threatened groups of birds from the planet.

sy88pgw (brand new York) First published February 13, 2018: 8:42 AM ET

Drones are helping scientists fight wildlife extinction

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