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Preliminary findings regarding the use of UAVs equipped with TIR Cameras to detect arboreal animals.

Authors: Blair Mirka*, San Diego State University, Gernot Paulus, Carinthia University of Applied Sciences, Doug Stow, San Diego State University
Topics: UAS / UAV, Biogeography, Drones
Keywords: UAV, Thermal, TIR, Remote Sensing, Monkeys, Survey
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

We are testing the ability of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) equipped with thermal infrared (TIR) cameras to detect arboreal primates within a forested area to estimate population density and distribution. The surveying of primates has traditionally been a difficult task requiring a considerable amount of time and resources, such a near-ground based camera traps that tend to be sparsely distributed. The use of UAVs equipped with TIR cameras can overcome these limitations by flying over impassible terrain and identifying animals, particularly those that spend substantial time in tree canopies. The initial phase involved testing the ability to detect warmer than background targets in an open-field to establish a baseline for thermal detection. This was followed by testing in the more complex forested area of Abenteuer Affenberg, Austria, which is a 4-hectare open-air enclosure housing 166 semi-free ranging Japanese Macaques (Macaca fuscata). However, the image resolution for this testing was not high enough to allow for the positive identification of targets within the tree canopy. More recent tests at Abenteuer Affenberg and on the campus of San Diego State University demonstrate that using a higher spatial resolution TIR camera allows for greater detectability of animals (and humans) within the image and will allow for an increased maximum flight altitude which will prevent wildlife disturbance. This ongoing research using high spatial resolution TIR cameras has shown promising results in overcoming terrestrial-based survey limitations and increasing the accuracy of UAV based warm body target detection

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