Aerial photography collected with a multirotor drone reveals impact of Eurasian beaver reintroduction on ecosystem structure
Brazier, Richard E.
Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems
NRC Research Press
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by NRC Research Press in Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems on 29 April 2015 available online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/juvs-2015-0005
Beavers are often described as ecological engineers with an ability to modify the structure and flow of fluvial systems and create complex wetland environments with dams, ponds and canals. Consequently, beaver activity has implications for a wide range of environmental ecosystem services including biodiversity, flood risk mitigation, water quality and sustainable drinking water provision. With the current debate surrounding the reintroduction of beavers into the United Kingdom, it is critical to be able to monitor the impact of beavers upon the environment. This study presents the first proof of concept results showing how a lightweight hexacopter fitted with a simple digital camera can be used to derive orthophoto and digital surface model (DSM) data products at a site where beavers have recently been reintroduced. Early results indicate that analysis of the fine-scale (0.01 m) orthophoto and DSM can be used to identify impacts on the ecosystem structure including the extent of dams and associated ponds, and changes in vegetation structure due to beaver tree felling activity. Unmanned aerial vehicle data acquisition offers an effective toolkit for regular repeat monitoring at fine spatial resolution which is a critical attribute for monitoring rapidly-changing and difficult to access beaver-impacted ecosystems.
Copyright © 2015 Canadian Science Publishing
Published on the web 29 April 2015.