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Mulero-Pazmany M.,CSIC - Donana Biological Station | Barasona J.A.,National Wildlife Research Institute CSIC UCLM JCCM | Acevedo P.,National Wildlife Research Institute CSIC UCLM JCCM | Vicente J.,National Wildlife Research Institute CSIC UCLM JCCM | Negro J.J.,CSIC - Donana Biological Station
Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2015

The knowledge about the spatial ecology and distribution of organisms is important for both basic and applied science. Biologging is one of the most popular methods for obtaining information about spatial distribution of animals, but requires capturing the animals and is often limited by costs and data retrieval. Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) have proven their efficacy for wildlife surveillance and habitat monitoring, but their potential contribution to the prediction of animal distribution patterns and abundance has not been thoroughly evaluated. In this study, we assess the usefulness of UAS overflights to (1) get data to model the distribution of free-ranging cattle for a comparison with results obtained from biologged (GPS-GSM collared) cattle and (2) predict species densities for a comparison with actual density in a protected area. UAS and biologging derived data models provided similar distribution patterns. Predictions from the UAS model overestimated cattle densities, which may be associated with higher aggregated distributions of this species. Overall, while the particular researcher interests and species characteristics will influence the method of choice for each study, we demonstrate here that UAS constitute a noninvasive methodology able to provide accurate spatial data useful for ecological research, wildlife management and rangeland planning. © 2015 Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source

Barasona J.A.,National Wildlife Research Institute CSIC UCLM JCCM | Mulero-Pazmany M.,CSIC - Donana Biological Station | Acevedo P.,National Wildlife Research Institute CSIC UCLM JCCM | Negro J.J.,CSIC - Donana Biological Station | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Complex ecological and epidemiological systems require multidisciplinary and innovative research. Low cost unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) can provide information on the spatial pattern of hosts' distribution and abundance, which is crucial as regards modelling the determinants of disease transmission and persistence on a fine spatial scale. In this context we have studied the spatial epidemiology of tuberculosis (TB) in the ungulate community of Donãna National Park (South-western Spain) by modelling species host (red deer, fallow deer and cattle) abundance at fine spatial scale. The use of UAS high-resolution images has allowed us to collect data to model the environmental determinants of host abundance, and in a further step to evaluate their relationships with the spatial risk of TB throughout the ungulate community. We discuss the ecological, epidemiological and logistic conditions under which UAS may contribute to study the wildlife/livestock sanitary interface, where the spatial aggregation of hosts becomes crucial. These findings are relevant for planning and implementing research, fundamentally when managing disease in multi-host systems, and focusing on risky areas. Therefore, managers should prioritize the implementation of control strategies to reduce disease of conservation, economic and social relevance. © 2014 Barasona et al. Source

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