WILDLIFE MULTISPECIES REMOTE SENSING USING VISIBLE AND THERMAL INFRARED IMAGERY ACQUIRED FROM AN UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLE (UAV)
Keywords: Wildlife Census, Multispecies Detection, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, Multicriteria Object-Based Image Analysis, Visible and Thermal Infrared Imagery
Abstract. Wildlife aerial surveys require time and significant resources. Multispecies detection could reduce costs to a single census for species that coexist spatially. Traditional methods are demanding for observers in terms of concentration and are not adapted to multispecies censuses. The processing of multispectral aerial imagery acquired from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) represents a potential solution for multispecies detection. The method used in this study is based on a multicriteria object-based image analysis applied on visible and thermal infrared imagery acquired from a UAV. This project aimed to detect American bison, fallow deer, gray wolves, and elks located in separate enclosures with a known number of individuals. Results showed that all bison and elks were detected without errors, while for deer and wolves, 0–2 individuals per flight line were mistaken with ground elements or undetected. This approach also detected simultaneously and separately the four targeted species even in the presence of other untargeted ones. These results confirm the potential of multispectral imagery acquired from UAV for wildlife census. Its operational application remains limited to small areas related to the current regulations and available technology. Standardization of the workflow will help to reduce time and expertise requirements for such technology.