article / 29 May 2022

New paper: A practical approach with drones, smartphones, and tracking tags for potential real-time animal tracking

Authors: Geison P Mesquita, Margarita Mulero-Pázmány, Serge A Wich, José Domingo Rodríguez-Teijeiro


PDF attached below as well. 


Drones are increasingly used for fauna monitoring and wildlife tracking; however, their application for wildlife tracking is restricted by developing such systems. Here we explore the potential of drones for wildlife tracking using an off-the-shelf system that is easy to use by non-specialists consisting of a multirotor drone, smartphones, and commercial tracking devices via Bluetooth and Ultra-Wide Band (UWB). We present the system configuration, explore the operational parameters that can affect detection capabilities, and test the effectiveness of the system for locating targets by simulating target animals in savanna and forest environments. The self-contained tracking system was built without hardware or software customization. In 40 tracking flights carried out in the Brazilian Cerrado, we obtained a detection rate of 90% in savanna and 40% in forest areas. Tests for targets in movement (N ¼ 20), the detection rates were 90% in the savanna and 30% in the forest areas. The spatial accuracy obtained by the system was 14.61 m, being significantly more accurate in savanna (x ¼ 10.53) than in forest areas (x ¼ 13.06). This approach to wildlife tracking facilitates the use of drones by non-specialists at an affordable cost for conservation projects with limited resources. The reduced size of the tags, the long battery life, and the lower cost compared to GPStags open up a range of opportunities for animal tracking.

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