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Measuring disturbance at a swift breeding colonies due to the visual aspects of a drone: a quasi-experiment study

Mesquita, GP, Rodríguez-Teijeiro, JD, Wich, SA and Mulero-Pázmány, M (2020) Measuring disturbance at a swift breeding colonies due to the visual aspects of a drone: a quasi-experiment study. Current Zoology. ISSN 2396-9814

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There is a growing body of research indicating that drones can disturb animals. However, it is usually unclear whether the disturbance is due to visual or auditory cues. Here, we examined the effect of drone flights on the behaviour of great dusky swifts Cypseloides senex and white-collared swifts Streptoprocne zonaris in two breeding sites where drone noise was obscured by environmental noise from waterfalls and any disturbance must be largely visual. We performed 12 experimental flights with a multirotor drone at different vertical, horizontal and diagonal distances from the colonies. From all flights, 17% caused <1% of birds to temporarily abandon the breeding site, 50% caused half to abandon and 33% caused more than half to abandon. We showed that the diagonal distance explained 98.9% of the variability of the disturbance percentage and while at distances greater than 50 m the disturbance percentage does not exceed 20%, at less than 40 m the disturbance percentage increase to above 60%. We recommend that flights with a multirotor drone during the breeding period should be conducted at a distance of > 50 m and that recreational flights should be discouraged or conducted at larger distances (e.g. 100 m) in nesting birds areas such as waterfalls, canyons and caves.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0608 Zoology
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Oxford University Press (OUP)
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2020 09:02
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 06:58
DOI or ID number: 10.1093/cz/zoaa038
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13323
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