UAV Lidar Being Used to Monitor Ducks

photo of UAV Lidar Will Monitor Duck Nests

UAV Lidar Will Monitor Duck Nests

What do ducks do, anyway? We will see in a minute, but this blog post is dedicated to long time friend, surveyor and duck hunter, Terry Bennett. Maybe this use of a UAV lidar will give him an idea.

From an article in the Duluth News Tribune by Brad Dokken.

The question has many answers, but a University of North Dakota graduate student and his adviser are working to shed light on even more of those answers by using drones to find duck nests and monitor the behavior of nesting ducks in the Missouri Coteau country of central North Dakota.

Working out of Ducks Unlimited’s Coteau Ranch and the adjacent Davis Ranch owned by The Nature Conservancy, graduate student Mason Ryckman and Susan Felege, associate professor of Wildlife Ecology and Management at UND, will use both fixed wing and quadcopter unmanned aerial vehicles fitted with high-tech cameras to monitor nearly 60 duck nests — they hope — on the two ranches this spring and summer.

Miniature surveillance cameras set next to the nests will provide further information on duck nesting behaviors.

There’s a lot of interest in using drones for survey methodology” such as pair counts and other surveys that wildlife managers conduct each spring, Felege said. “In addition, there’s been a large push to think about using something like thermal imaging cameras to be able to find nests.”

Preliminary fieldwork is just getting underway to iron out some of the glitches with equipment and software, said Ryckman, who will spend much of the summer in the field. Depending on how things go, Felege says she might be out there a couple days a week. Staff from Ducks Unlimited’s Great Plains Regional Office in Bismarck also will be helping out.

New Research Component

Felege and various students have used surveillance cameras to study duck nests in the coteau country for the past six years through a partnership between DU and UND, with funding from various sources, including Ducks Unlimited, UND College of Arts and Sciences, Enbridge Ecofootprint Grant Program and the Minnesota Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils Inc.

This will be the first full summer of research using drones on a broad scale. Felege’s previous experience with using drones for waterfowl research includes studying snow geese along the Hudson Bay coastline near Churchill, Man.

Staff from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York also collaborated on some of last summer’s preliminary research, Felege said, bringing out a drone equipped with sophisticated hyperspectral imaging designed to capture the wavelengths of different vegetation and LIDAR — short for Light Detection and Ranging — that measures light and wavelengths to form 3D images of what’s below.

For the complete article CLICK HERE.

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1 Response to UAV Lidar Being Used to Monitor Ducks

  1. Todd Manning says:

    Looks like a promising new application of UAS technology! I’ve been experimenting with UAS imaging using longwave IR and RGB-based point clouds to identify nesting habitat for Sage Thrashers and inventory Great Blue Heron nests in British Columbia, Canada. I think LiDAR has potential but will be tricky to get the resolution needed to identify ground nests.

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