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Thermal Infrared Imaging from Drones Offers a Major Advance for Spider Monkey Surveys

Spaan, D, Burke, C, McAree, O, Aureli, F, Rangel-Rivera, C, Hutschenreiter, A, Longmore, SN, McWhirter, PR and Wich, SA (2019) Thermal Infrared Imaging from Drones Offers a Major Advance for Spider Monkey Surveys. Drones, 3 (2). ISSN 2504-446X

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Accurate and precise population estimates form the basis of conservation action but are lacking for many arboreal species due to the high costs and difficulty in surveying these species. Recently, researchers have started to use drones to obtain data on animal distribution and density. In this study, we compared ground and drone counts for spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) at their sleeping sites using a custom-built drone fitted with a thermal infrared (TIR) camera. We demonstrated that a drone with a TIR camera can be successfully employed to determine the presence and count the number of spider monkeys in a forested area. Using a concordance analysis, we found high agreement between ground and drone counts for small monkey subgroups (<10 individuals), indicating that the methods do not differ when surveying small subgroups. However, we found low agreement between methods for larger subgroups (>10 individuals), with drone counts being higher than the corresponding ground counts in 83% of surveys. We could identify additional individuals from TIR drone footage due to a greater area covered compared to ground surveys. We recommend using TIR drones for surveys of spider monkey sleeping sites and discuss current challenges to implementation.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: unmanned aerial vehicles; conservation; population monitoring; Ateles; primates
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QL Zoology
T Technology > TL Motor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Natural Sciences & Psychology (closed 31 Aug 19)
Publisher: MDPI
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2019 10:38
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 01:51
DOI or ID number: 10.3390/drones3020034
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/10539
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