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Astro-ecology: saving endangered animals from outer space

Speaker: Dr Claire Burke (Liverpool John Moores University)
Date: Wednesday 5 December 2018
Time: 15:00
Venue: Queens Buildings N/3.28

Species of animals are disappearing from Earth at a rate not seen since the extinction of the dinosaurs. Protecting biodiversity is vital for a multitude of environmental and societal reasons. To form effective conservation strategy detailed understanding of wildlife populations is needed, and effective anti-poaching strategies are required. However ecosystem knowledge is still commonly based on data gathered through foot surveys and poachers are still notoriously difficult to catch. Drones offer a major advantage for ecosystem surveying, animal tracking and monitoring for poachers as they can survey large areas or difficult terrain quickly with minimal disturbance to wildlife. But this comes with its own challenges, such as optimizing observing strategy and analysing the ever increasing quantity of data produced. In a world first collaboration between astronomers and ecologists, we are adapting techniques used in astrophysics to help revolutionise conservation ecology through the use of thermal equipped drones. I will discuss the solutions we are developing and some of our recent successes.