Google street view, for potoroos!!
Weighing in at under 1.5kg, and spending most of their lives within centimetres of the ground, gives Long-nosed Potoroos a very different view of the landscape than we see as humans. Features we might easily miss from our height can be critical to their survival, providing food, as well as shelter from predators such as foxes and cats, and refuges from fire.
Over the past 3 years we’ve been tracking the movements of Long-nosed Potoroos in the Carlisle Heath using GPS collars, collecting data in fine detail about where these animals spend their time.
Using this GPS technology means we can track Potoroos in places we never actually go, leaving them and their habitat undisturbed. But it also means we’ve been relying on remote satellite imagery to understand the ecosystems and habitat features they are using.
This imagery is cost-effective to obtain, regularly updated by the satellites orbiting Earth, and offers an exceptional amount of detail given how far away the photos are taken from.
But in reality, given the relatively small scale of potoroo movements (metres rather than kilometres), satellite imagery just doesn’t provide the kind of detail we need to help us understand the decisions potoroos are making about where to spend their time.
So, we turned to drones.
Last year, with the support of the Wettenhall Environment Trust, we were able to purchase a drone and have two staff trained and accredited to use it.
By using advanced software developed by DroneDeploy, we can generate a pre-programed flight path and image collection schedule to collect hundreds of images and combine these images to create high-quality fine-scale maps of our target areas.
This aerial imagery collected by drones has the potential to revolutionise our understanding of the small mammal habitat in the Carlisle, and how important habitat features are changed by fire.
We can’t wait to share the results of this work with you.