Remote detection of wildlife in a montane, urban-fringe environment using ground-based thermal technology

Authors: Justin White*, Utah Valley University, Justus Thomas, Utah Valley University, Sophia Garrido, Utah Valley University
Topics: Biogeography, Remote Sensing, Physical Geography
Keywords: Remote-sensing technologies, mid-infrared, human-wildlife interface, alpine environments
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Monitoring wildlife in montane environments with abundant human traffic requires specific methods. Wildlife in these environments typically exploit remote areas with little human presence that make them difficult to monitor without technologies such as game cameras, GPS collars, or PIT tags. These methods are expensive to implement and are can be highly invasive, or have a high rate of scientific take. Over the last ~15 years, remote technologies have advanced enabling researchers and land managers to reduce their impact on wildlife populations. Unmanned aerial vehicles are an effective method to identify wildlife in remote areas; however, they are less efficient in areas with high temperature and wind variability, and overall low air pressure. Ground-based thermal monoculars offer an intermediate, low-cost method of wildlife sampling in montane environments. Thermal monoculars allow for active researcher engagement with real-time footage (as opposed to deploying traditional game cameras), large viewshed capacity, and minimal scientific take from the focal system. We sought to identify optimal sampling methods for identifying wildlife with a FLIR Scout 640 III at different times of day, and in various winter and spring weather conditions in the Wasatch Mountains, Utah. These seasons are ideal for recording thermal signatures because of the organisms’ life histories and reproductive cycles. The monocular contains seven palette (e.g. warmest 20% of objects in field of view are colored on a yellow-red gradient and everything else is grey). We present on the optimal palette modes for various environmental conditions and at difference distances.

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