Using drones to survey waterfowl
Waterfowl movements are poorly understood in Australia, with some species regularly showing little to no movement for months, before undertaking rapid, long-distance movements along a relatively fixed trajectory. To better understand these movements, ABEL members have used a combination of GPS-based tracking hardware and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, to develop survey techniques that have minimal welfare impacts for the birds.
The type of UAV shape used had a significant impact on how birds responded, with those having profiles reminiscent of raptors eliciting escape behaviours, even when flown at relatively high elevations. Wing profiles that were more consistent with non-predatory birds were better tolerated by subjects and, with the right camera setup, enabled us to take high quality images that facilitated species counts and identification of individuals, even for species as small as swallows!
For more details, see here.
For more information, contact Assoc. Prof. Paul McDonald