OOS 68
Building Bridges – Using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) Imagery to Link Ecological Observations

Thursday, August 13, 2015: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
341, Baltimore Convention Center
Dawn M. Browning, USDA Agricultural Research Service
Jason W. Karl, USDA Agricultural Research Service; Jonathan Dandois, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute; and Dawn M. Browning, USDA Agricultural Research Service
Helene C. Muller-Landau, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
When ESA was founded, observations of organisms and their environments were largely conducted at the scale of 1-m2 quadrats. These quadrats were pivotal to foundational ecological principles and many continue to serve an unmistakably important role in long-term ecology. One hundred years later, the observation lens of ecologists has expanded exponentially in size (i.e., spatial extent) and scope. Unmanned aerial systems (UASs) constitute new technology that has the potential to transform ecological research by creating a bridge between field and remotely sensed data within this expanded observation lens. Our ability to characterize field conditions and record organismal and ecosystem responses has grown tremendously to examine and monitor ecological phenomena at spatial and temporal scales previously not possible. From this expanded capacity to observe and interpret responses at multiple scales (e.g., leaf, plant community, and ecosystem levels) has emerged the importance of examining patterns at multiple levels of organization simultaneously. Technological and analytical innovations provide opportunities to study ecological processes at multiple hierarchical levels (i.e., scales) as well as explore the interactions within and across scales. Yet, challenges remain in linking the observations made at different scales in this hierarchical framework. Remotely sensed imagery from satellite (e.g., Landsat or MODIS) or aircraft (e.g., aerial photography) remains a valuable for supplementing field-based ecological studies but have limitations associated with the cost of acquiring imagery at a resolution (i.e., pixel size) and/or sampling frequency commensurate with the process being investigated. For these cases, imagery from UASs offers a highly valued resource. UASs are particularly well-suited to bridge gaps in the spatial and temporal realms associated with airborne remote sensing (e.g., aerial photography and satellite imagery) and can be operated inexpensively at low altitudes with different types of payloads to accommodate a range of sensors which will significantly enhance ecosystem modeling activities. This organized oral session is designed to showcase the benefits of using very high resolution imagery acquired using UASs for ecological research using a diverse set of illustrative examples. The session will serve as a primer for ecologists on the advantages as well as the limitations of UASs for conducting ecological research. Our examples showcase applications in the fields of phenology (in widely varying ecosystems responding to different abiotic drivers), conservation biology, public land management, and agricultural production. The talks will be of interest to a large swath of ESA members and accessible to a broad audience.
8:00 AM
 Unraveling the mystery of dryland plant phenology through time and space with multi-scale remote sensing
Dawn M. Browning, USDA Agricultural Research Service; Jonathan J. Maynard, USDA Agricultural Research Service; Jason W. Karl, USDA Agricultural Research Service; Debra C. Peters, USDA Agricultural Research Service
8:20 AM
 Regulations and considerations for operating unmanned aircraft systems in the United States: The good, the bad, and the ugly
Connie J. Maxwell, USDA Agricultural Research Service; Albert Rango, USDA Agricultural Research Service; Dawn M. Browning, USDA Agricultural Research Service
8:40 AM
 Bridging the organism and landscape scales of deciduous forest phenology using an unmanned aerial vehicle, PhenoCam, and remote sensing
Stephen Klosterman, Harvard University; Sidni Frederick, Harvard College; Arturo Martinez, Carnegie Mellon University; Andrew D. Richardson, Harvard University
9:00 AM
 Mapping the rhythms of tropical forest canopy deciduousness using unmanned aerial vehicles
Jonathan Dandois, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute; Marino Ramirez, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute; Stephanie A. Bohlman, University of Florida; Helene C. Muller-Landau, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
9:20 AM
 High resolution, high frequency imaging to track the evolution of stress in agro-ecosystems
Lyndon Estes, Princeton University; Eric Principato, Princeton University; Peter Oudemans, Rutgers University; Brenden Duffy, Flight Riot; Jorge Gago, Universitat de les Illes Balears; Kelly K. Caylor, Princeton University
9:40 AM
9:50 AM
 Biomass monitoring in the western Amazon: Using unmanned aircraft to provide near real-time updates of biomass estimates in a conservation hotspot
Maxwell C. Messinger, Wake Forest University; Miles R. Silman, Wake Forest University; Gregory P. Asner, Carnegie Institution for Science; Marcus W. Wright, Wake Forest University; William Nicholson, Wake Forest University
10:10 AM
 Mapping herbivore habitat quality with high-resolution imagery from unmanned aerial systems
Peter J. Olsoy, Washington State University; Jennifer S. Forbey, Boise State University; Janet L. Rachlow, University of Idaho; Matthew A. Burgess, University of Florida; Nancy F. Glenn, Boise State University; Lisa A. Shipley, Washington State University; Daniel H. Thornton, Washington State University
10:30 AM
 Protocols for vegetation and habitat monitoring with unmanned aerial vehicles: Linking research to management on US public lands
Jason W. Karl, USDA Agricultural Research Service; Jeff Gillan, New Mexico State University