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Using Drones to Determine Chimpanzee Absences at the Edge of Their Distribution in Western Tanzania

Wich, Serge A; Bonnin, Noémie; Hutschenreiter, Anja; Piel, Alex K; Chitayat, Adrienne; Stewart, Fiona A; Pintea, Lilian; (2023) Using Drones to Determine Chimpanzee Absences at the Edge of Their Distribution in Western Tanzania. Remote Sensing , 15 (8) , Article 2019. 10.3390/rs15082019. Green open access

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Abstract

Effective species conservation management relies on detailed species distribution data. For many species, such as chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), distribution data are collected during ground surveys. For chimpanzees, such ground surveys usually focus on detection of the nests they build instead of detection of the chimpanzees themselves due to their low density. However, due to the large areas they still occur in, such surveys are very costly to conduct and repeat frequently to monitor populations over time. Species distribution models are more accurate if they include presence as well as absence data. Earlier studies used drones to determine chimpanzee presence using nests. In this study, therefore, we explored the use of drones to determine the absence of chimpanzee nests in areas we flew over on the edge of the chimpanzee distribution in western Tanzania. We conducted 13 flights with a fixed-wing drone and collected 3560 images for which manual inspection took 180 h. Flights were divided into a total of 746 25 m2 plots for which we determined the absence probability of nests. In three flights, we detected nests, in eight, absence was assumed based on a 95% probability criterion, and in two flights, nest absence could not be assumed. Our study indicates that drones can be used to cover relatively large areas to determine the absence of chimpanzees. To fully benefit from the usage of drones to determine the presence and absence of chimpanzees, it is crucial that methods are developed to automate nest detection in images.

Type: Article
Title: Using Drones to Determine Chimpanzee Absences at the Edge of Their Distribution in Western Tanzania
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3390/rs15082019
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.3390/rs15082019
Language: English
Additional information: © 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: drone; UAV; chimpanzee; species conservation management
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10168879
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