Unmanned aircraft systems in wildlife research: Current and future applications of a transformative technology

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
University of Alaska Fairbanks - Institute of Arctic Biology and Geophysical Institute
By: , and 

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Abstract

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) – also called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones – are an emerging tool that may provide a safer, more cost-effective, and quieter alternative to traditional research methods. We review examples where UAS have been used to document wildlife abundance, behavior, and habitat, and illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of this technology with two case studies. We summarize research on behavioral responses of wildlife to UAS, and discuss the need to understand how recreational and commercial applications of this technology could disturb certain species. Currently, the widespread implementation of UAS by scientists is limited by flight range, regulatory frameworks, and a lack of validation. UAS are most effective when used to examine smaller areas close to their launch sites, whereas manned aircraft are recommended for surveying greater distances. The growing demand for UAS in research and industry is driving rapid regulatory and technological progress, which in turn will make them more accessible and effective as analytical tools.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Unmanned aircraft systems in wildlife research: Current and future applications of a transformative technology
Series title Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
DOI 10.1002/fee.1281
Volume 14
Issue 5
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 11 p.
First page 241
Last page 251