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Study of fauna population changes on Penguin Island and Turret Point Oasis (King George Island, Antarctica) using an unmanned aerial vehicle

Korczak-Abshire, Małgorzata and Zmarz, Anna and Rodzewicz, Mirosław and Kycko, Marlena and Karsznia, Izabela and Chwedorzewska, Katarzyna J. (2018) Study of fauna population changes on Penguin Island and Turret Point Oasis (King George Island, Antarctica) using an unmanned aerial vehicle. Polar Biology . ISSN 0722-4060

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Official URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00300-0...

Abstract

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as an alternative to manned aircrafts is an excellent, less invasive, safe tool, especially in sensitive polar regions. Here we used a fixed-wing UAV to collect data on seabird and pinniped populations in hardly accessible Antarctic areas. The implementation of an auto-piloted UAV equipped with a digital camera (Canon EOS 700D, 35 mm f/2.0 lens) allowed us to collect high-quality material applicable to a quantitative analysis of the fauna populations. A successful photogrammetric mission, at an altitude of 550 m above sea level, was accomplished during one Beyond Visual Line of Sight flight above hard-to-access Penguin Island and Turret Point Oasis (King George Island). Obtained selected RGB images were processed to generate a panoramic image stitch with resolution of 0.07 m ground sampling distance. A total of 4290 (SD = 33.08) breeding individuals of two penguin species, Adélie (Pygoscelis adeliae) and chinstrap (Pygoscelis antarcticus), 426 (SD = 7.78) individuals of the southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) and 6 individuals of the Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii) were identified in both study areas. Additionally, 222 (SD = 2.0) individuals of the southern giant petrel (Macronectes giganteus) and 76 (SD = 1.0) of the Antarctic shag (Phalacrocorax atriceps bransfieldensis) in the Turret Point area were recognized. The presented observations on the natural history of the investigated fauna together with the available literature may be useful in future research on population trends. A comparison with available historical data for both investigated areas suggests a decrease of 68.29% in both penguin species in the 1980–2016 period. The presented results confirmed that UAVs are useful for remote census work for Antarctic seabirds.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions:Department of Antarctic Biology
ID Code:1565
Deposited By: dr K.J. Chwedorzewska
Deposited On:30 Jul 2018 09:01
Last Modified:30 Jul 2018 09:01

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