Seeing the forest from drones: Testing the potential of lightweight drones as a tool for long-term forest monitoring
Jian Zhang,Jianbo Hu, Juyu Lian, Zongji Fann, Xuejun Ouyang and Wanhui Ye
Biological Conservation, Volume 198, June 2016, Pages 60–69
Here is a paper that provides Convincing evidence that drones can add substantial value to long-term ecological monitoring by providing low cost, high resolution data.
Long-term ecological monitoring has contributed significantly towards advancements in theoretical and applied ecology. The flip side is that the costs to maintain a long-term monitoring site are enormous. Here the researchers used a lightweight drone to map in detail forest canopy structure across a 20-ha subtropical forest dynamics plot. They examined the added benefit of incorporating drone-derived variables in explaining local variation in both stand and species measures. The researchers were convinced that Drone-derived canopy variables contributed substantially towards explaining spatial patterns in biodiversity. Species with different light requirements responded to canopy variables supporting gap dynamics successional theories and Lightweight drone technologies offer great potential for long-term ecological studies.
The researchers sign off saying Drones should be included in the ecologist's toolbox to complement traditional field surveys.