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科学美国人60秒: 无人机的生物用途

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Drones Could Help Biologists Tally Birds

无人机的生物用途

Ecologists crouching quietly amidst vegetation, using binoculars to tally birds in a roost, may soon be a charming relic of the past. Because a new study shows that, when it comes to getting an accurate avian head count, aerial drones can do better.

生态学家在植被中静静地蹲伏着,用双筒望远镜在栖息地中研究鸟类,这可能很快就成为过去。因为一项新的研究结果表明,在获得鸟类的准确数量问题上,空中的无人机可以做得更好。

In recent years, scientists who study wild populations are increasingly turning to remotely piloted aircraft…otherwise known as drones…to monitor their animal of interest. For example, drones are being used to track pods of whales…or to keep an eye on African elephant herds and watch for signs of poaching.

近年来,研究野生种群的科学家越来越多地转向使用遥控飞机......也就是无人驾驶飞机......来监测他们感兴趣的动物。例如,无人驾驶飞机正在被用来追踪鲸鱼......或者留意非洲象群并观察偷猎迹象。

Such remote surveys are generally considered highly cost-effective. But it wasn’t clear whether they are as accurate as old-fashioned, feet-on-the-ground, expert evaluations.

这种远程监控调查通常被认为具有很高的成本效益。但不清楚它们是否像老式的实地评估那样准确。

To find out, researchers in Australia set up a test.“And so what we did was make some replica seabird colonies where we knew the true number of individuals in each colony.”Jarrod Hodgson of the University of Adelaide led the study.

为了找到这个答案,澳大利亚的研究人员进行了一项测试:“我们所做的就是培植一些复制的海鸟群落,我们知道每个群体的真实数量。”阿德莱德大学的Jarrod Hodgson领导了这项研究。

Using decoy-sized rubber ducks, the researchers laid out 10 colonies…ranging in size from about 500 to more than 1000 individuals.“We then had experienced ground counters make independent counts of those birds from nearby, from the optimum vantage point. At the same time, we flew a drone overhead capturing photographs at different heights above the colony.”

研究人员使用橡皮鸭大小的诱饵,制作了10个菌落......大小从500到1000多不等。“然后,我们有经验的地面计数器,可以从最佳位置对附近的这些鸟类进行独立计数。与此同时,我们的一架无人驾驶飞机,从头顶捕捉不同高度的照片。”

The drone data were then analyzed two ways. First, a gaggle of citizen-scientists was tasked with adding up the number of birds they could see in each scene.

The results of that approach:

然后分析两种方式的无人机数据。首先,一群公民科学家的任务是增加每个场景中可以看到的鸟的数量。该方法的结果:

“We found that on average the drone-derived data or the drone-derived counts made by humans counting the images were between 43 percent and 96 percent more accurate than the traditional ground-based counts.”

“我们发现,平均来说,由人类计数图像所产生的无人机衍生数据,或无人机衍生数据比传统地面数据更准确,在43%至96%之间。”

The better the image, the more accurate the count.Then, Hodgson and his team developed a semi-automated computer program to do the counting for them. And they found:

图像越好,计数就越准确。然后,Hodgson和他的团队开发了一个半自动化的计算机程序,来为它们进行准确计数。他们发现:

“… there was no statistical difference between those counts and the counts completed by our volunteers using exactly the same imagery.”The results appear in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution. So counting by drone not only saves time and effort, but yields better data…a definite plus in terms of conservation.

“......这些数字与我们的志愿者使用完全相同的图像完成的计数之间没有统计学差异。”该研究结果发表在“生态学和进化方法”杂志中。因此,通过无人机进行计数,不仅节省时间和精力,而且可以产生更好的数据......在保护野生动物方面具有明显的优势。

“When we monitor wildlife, increasing the accuracy and the precision of animal surveys gives us more confidence in our population estimates. And this means that we have a stronger evidence base on which to make management decisions or policy changes.”

“当我们监测野生动物时,提高动物调查的准确性和精确度,使我们对我们的人口估计更有信心。 这意味着,我们有更强有力的证据来做出管理决策或政策变更。“

In other words, a drone in the sky is better than two PhDs in the bush. Who can rely on better data to be feathers in their caps.

换句话说,天空中的无人机比灌木丛中的两位博士更好。能用好数据就能做到锦上添花。

Drones Could Help Biologists Tally Birds

Ecologists crouching quietly amidst vegetation, using binoculars to tally birds in a roost, may soon be a charming relic of the past. Because a new study shows that, when it comes to getting an accurate avian head count, aerial drones can do better.

In recent years, scientists who study wild populations are increasingly turning to remotely piloted aircraft…otherwise known as drones…to monitor their animal of interest. For example, drones are being used to track pods of whales…or to keep an eye on African elephant herds and watch for signs of poaching.

Such remote surveys are generally considered highly cost-effective. But it wasn’t clear whether they are as accurate as old-fashioned, feet-on-the-ground, expert evaluations.

To find out, researchers in Australia set up a test.“And so what we did was make some replica seabird colonies where we knew the true number of individuals in each colony.”Jarrod Hodgson of the University of Adelaide led the study.

Using decoy-sized rubber ducks, the researchers laid out 10 colonies…ranging in size from about 500 to more than 1000 individuals.“We then had experienced ground counters make independent counts of those birds from nearby, from the optimum vantage point. At the same time, we flew a drone overhead capturing photographs at different heights above the colony.”

The drone data were then analyzed two ways. First, a gaggle of citizen-scientists was tasked with adding up the number of birds they could see in each scene.The results of that approach:

“We found that on average the drone-derived data or the drone-derived counts made by humans counting the images were between 43 percent and 96 percent more accurate than the traditional ground-based counts.”

The better the image, the more accurate the count.Then, Hodgson and his team developed a semi-automated computer program to do the counting for them. And they found:

“… there was no statistical difference between those counts and the counts completed by our volunteers using exactly the same imagery.”The results appear in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution. So counting by drone not only saves time and effort, but yields better data…a definite plus in terms of conservation.

“When we monitor wildlife, increasing the accuracy and the precision of animal surveys gives us more confidence in our population estimates. And this means that we have a stronger evidence base on which to make management decisions or policy changes.”

In other words, a drone in the sky is better than two PhDs in the bush. Who can rely on better data to be feathers in their caps.


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