Using Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (Drones).


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Symposium: Using Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (Drones) to Transform the Measurement of Behaviour

Organizers: John Church, Thomson Rivers University, Canada

Schedule: Wednesday 18th May 13:00 - 14:14 CET. Virtual Room 3

13:00-13:15    Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for Applied Animal Ethology.
John Church. Thompson Rivers University, Canada.
UAVs can be eployed to record behavior of a wide variety of species, even in difficult/impassible terrain. The Smart Biome data platform we envision, incorporating UAVs, enables high-precision environmental research and decision-making more accessible.

13:15-13:30    Choosing the Right Drone for Animal Research.  
Spencer Serin and John Church. Thompson Rivers University, Canada.
Drones present a non-invasive opportunity to observe large numbers of wildlife or livestock with reduced risk of the Observer Effect that can influence behavior. How does one determine which UAS is best suited for a given application or behavioral study? There are many important considerations to take, which include but are not limited to: aircraft model, sensor type, image processing requirements, and operational factors.

13:30-13:45    Use of Aerial Thermal Imaging to Compare Assess Surface Temperatures Between Light and Dark Variants of Black Angus x Canadian Speckle Park Cattle.
Joanna Urbana & John Church. Thompson Rivers University, Canada.
We successfully investigated differences in the surface temperature between dark and light variants of different cattle breeds to examine the effect of coat colour on solar heat gain, using a drone equipped with a thermal infrared imaging radiometer.

13:45-14:00    Using UAVs to measure behavioral indicators of heat stress in cattle.
Justin Mufford.Thompson Rivers University, Canada.
Heat stress in cattle is a significant problem. Respiration rate is a reliable behavioral indicator, but is time and labor-intensive to measure. We developed a novel, practical method to quantify respiration rate using unmanned aerial vehicles.  

14:00-14-15    Baboons on the Move: Enhancing Understanding of Collective Decision Making through Automated Motion Detection from Aerial Drone Footage.
Christopher L. Crutchfield, Jake Sutton, Anh Ngo, Emmanuel Zadorian, Gabrielle Hourany, Dylan Nelson, Alvin Wang, Fiona McHenry-Crutchfield, Deborah Forster, Shirley C. Strum, Ryan Kastner, & Curt Schurgers. Engineers for Exploration, University of California, San Diego, USA.
In this paper, we examine tracking of baboon troop movements using a combination of human observers and computer vision techniques to aid in the study of the group-level behaviors that impact troop movement and collective decision-making.

Symposium 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. 

Photo courtesy of Kamloops.