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Using Drones to Determine Chimpanzee Absences at the Edge of Their Distribution in Western Tanzania

Wich, S, Bonnin, N, Hutschenreiter, A, Piel, AK, Chitayat, A, Stewart, FA, Pintea, L and Kerby, J (2023) Using Drones to Determine Chimpanzee Absences at the Edge of Their Distribution in Western Tanzania. Remote Sensing, 15 (8). ISSN 2072-4292

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Effective species conservation management relies on detailed species distribution data. For many species, such as chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), distribution data are collected during ground surveys. For chimpanzees, such ground surveys usually focus on detection of the nests they build instead of detection of the chimpanzees themselves due to their low density. However, due to the large areas they still occur in, such surveys are very costly to conduct and repeat frequently to monitor populations over time. Species distribution models are more accurate if they include presence as well as absence data. Earlier studies used drones to determine chimpanzee presence using nests. In this study, therefore, we explored the use of drones to determine the absence of chimpanzee nests in areas we flew over on the edge of the chimpanzee distribution in western Tanzania. We conducted 13 flights with a fixed-wing drone and collected 3560 images for which manual inspection took 180 h. Flights were divided into a total of 746 25 m2 plots for which we determined the absence probability of nests. In three flights, we detected nests, in eight, absence was assumed based on a 95% probability criterion, and in two flights, nest absence could not be assumed. Our study indicates that drones can be used to cover relatively large areas to determine the absence of chimpanzees. To fully benefit from the usage of drones to determine the presence and absence of chimpanzees, it is crucial that methods are developed to automate nest detection in images.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0203 Classical Physics; 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience; 0909 Geomatic Engineering
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QL Zoology
T Technology > T Technology (General)
T Technology > TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: MDPI AG
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2023 12:33
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2023 13:38
DOI or ID number: 10.3390/rs15082019
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/19259
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