Drones are changing the way that ecologist do their research. Drones or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) are being frequently used to help scientists do their research on what they’re try to observe. UAVs can also help scientist make 3D images of the land scapes. UAVs help get samples of animals or help see landscapes of diseased trees to biological effects on landscapes. They can also take samples from marine animals.
A PHD student wanted to collect snot from whales, to help understand the whales health but it was difficult and dangerous for the researchers to get so close to the animals. Alastair Smith, a man asking to help with the research was a pilot at a Sydney based company. The scientist accepted the offer and got a modiffed UAV to do the job. The drone will open a hatch when the whale blows snot out of their blowhole then close when its received its sample. The UAV discovered 6 new viruses just by examining the whale snot.
Scientists also used drones to take high resolution pictures of the Australia’s Strzelecki Desert. The scientist want to make a 3D image of the desert but they noticed something. They saw that the shrubbery was at a higher density in higher and bumpier sand dunes. Now scientist think that this biological effect can be widespread and not in that specific location. UAVs also help see if plants are diseased.
UAVs are now being used by farmers in southern Italy to check on their field of crops. The farmer are doing this because a lot of the trees show no signs of symptoms and the stay diseased. These farmers use UAVs to check on their crops to see which ones are bad and which ones to chop down. The UAVs have a sensor which has a thermal scanner to show the health of the plant. This process is much faster than checking the trees by foot. But do these drones disturb animals.
Scientist say that UAVs do not disturb animals do to the research they did with a flamingo and it did not seemed disturbed. Further research has shown that some animals get a high level of a stress response to UAVs. The animals that got stressed where the american black bear and the king penguin. Both of these animal are showing similar symptoms and scientist are more aware of using UAVs near animal often. This is how drones are changing ecology.