A team of researchers from the University of Wollongong (UOW) and the University of Tasmania has developed a new method for assessing the health of fragile Antarctic vegetation using drones, which they say could be used to improve the efficiency of ecological monitoring in other environments as well.
The researchers have written about their method in an article published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution, a scientific journal of the British Ecological Society. The UOW researchers involved in the project were Professor Sharon Robinson, Ms Diana King, and Dr Johanna Turnbull from the Centre for Sustainable Ecosystem Solutions.
Antarctic plants can be important indicators of subtle changes in environmental conditions, including climate change. Traditional ground-based assessments of vegetation health are, however, not ideal in Antarctica, as they can destroy the vegetation and are physically demanding in the harsh weather conditions.
Professor Robinson said the study found drone-based monitoring of vegetation health produced similar results to traditional techniques, but with much greater efficiency and with no damage to the vegetation.
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