A DRONE, A PHONE AND AN APP: A SOLUTION FOR FINE-SCALE ANIMAL TRACKING
|Ian J. Axsom; Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; firstname.lastname@example.org; William T. Bean|
Studying small-animal space-use is challenging because most measures of habitat and animal locations are relatively coarse compared to the home ranges, movements or habitat patches of interest. The increasing prevalence of drones has provided a new platform for collecting centimeter-resolution remotely sensed habitat data, but this data has limited utility for studying small-animal space-use if it is not paired with fine-scale animal tracking. We tested a method of recording fine-scale location data in the field, which uses the same drone imagery that provides high-resolution habitat data, to create a centimeter-resolution map onto which locations are recorded within a smartphone app. We tested the accuracy by mapping targets in the field using this method, and a handheld GPS device for comparison, and measuring errors against a high-accuracy RTK GPS. We found that 82% of mapping locations had sub-meter errors compared to just 21% for the GPS device. Most errors were caused by misidentification of landmarks in feature-poor areas so the addition of reference markers in these locations should improve accuracy. This approach provides a new tool for studying fine-scale animal space-use using drone imagery for both habitat measurement and location mapping.