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Using Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (Drones) to Transform the Measurement of Behaviour
Organizers: John Church and Joanna Urban (Thomson Rivers University, Canada)
Description: In the past five years drones have exploded into the public eye. Drones have historically primarily been used in the field of conservation research, which requires the analysis of resident populations of animals and plants. Drones are very capable; for example, of flying over bird nesting zones without causing disturbance, enabling ornithologists to count them. In addition, the drone’s ability to fly with remarkable maneuverability at low altitude, allows for the unprecedented capture of high-resolution terrain data. From rainforest canopies to Antarctica, drones are enabling us to digitally document our world in miraculous new ways that used to take weeks or arduous labour. The exact same is true when implementing drones for behavioural observation.
This symposium will explore how this truly transformative technology is changing the field of ethology in the 21st century. This symposia will present speakers with a diverse array of experiences and backgrounds into using drones or RPAs for the study of behaviour. Topics covered will include items such as:
1) Using unmanned aerial vehicles to diminish the Observer Effect and improve efficiency
2) Use of drone data collected in the field with behavioural software packages
3) Advantages of using different drone camera payloads for advanced optical zoom and high resolution video imagery
4) Use of thermal infrared payloads as well as near-infrared in order to characterize both animal and their environments, especially at night.
5) Using advanced drone flight modes in order to autonomously follow animals and characterize gait
6) Using RFID antennae onboard remotely piloted systems to collect behavioural data from specialized ear-tags, collars and reticulum boluses on animals aerially in real-time
7) Training animals to both tolerate and even follow drones
Photo courtesy of Kamloops.