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The following schedule is subject to change (as of October 11, 2016). Please check back for updates. For more information about this meeting, go to: www.seafwa.org/conferences/2016
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Wednesday, October 19 • 8:40am - 9:00am
Wildlife. Evaluation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Monitor Great Egrets (Ardea alba) Nesting in Southwestern Louisiana

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AUTHORS: Samantha A. Collins, Gabriel Giffin - Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge

ABSTRACT: Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are a new monitoring technology capable of collecting scientific information from difficult-to-access places while minimizing disturbance. These devices are increasingly used in many research disciplines but their application to wildlife research remains relatively unexplored. We implemented a research study to monitor a large colony of Great Egrets (Ardea alba) nesting in isolated patches of Phragmites australis (Common Reed) along a managed canal within Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge by conducting surveys by boat or drone. We compared hatching success estimates from boat and UAV surveys, as well as disturbance to adults and chicks from the two survey types. Further, we investigated flight initiation distance of nesting adults to UAV presence and flight altitude effects on adults at various nesting stages. Results from this study suggest that adults are more prone to flush when incubating eggs and less prone to flush when adults are tending to chicks, particularly those tending to recently hatched chicks. We also found that adults were less disturbed by the UAV when other adults were present on the nesting territory. We recommend that UAVs be flown at an altitude of >20m above a nest to reduce disturbance to nesting colonial wading birds in an open marsh habitat.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 8:40am - 9:00am
Louisiana Room

Attendees (6)