Theses and Dissertations

Title

Detection rates of northern bobwhite coveys using a small unmanned aerial system-mounted thermal camera

Author

Megan Martin

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University

Advisor

McConnell, Mark D.

Committee Member

Evans, Kristine O.

Committee Member

Iglay, Raymond

Date of Degree

12-1-2020

Original embargo terms

Visible to MSU only for 2 years||12/15/2022

Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access

Abstract

Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) monitoring (e.g., covey-call surveys) is labor-intensive and imprecise. We evaluated the influence of bobwhite covey size and cover type on covey detectability when surveyed with a thermal camera-equipped small unmanned aerial system (sUAS). We placed bobwhite groups (3, 6, and 12 individuals/cage) among three cover types (grass, shrub, forest) on a private farm in Clay County, Mississippi (3 replicates, 27 total cages). At civil twilight, the sUAS flew over cages at 30 m, capturing photographs every 5 s. We asked 31 volunteers to evaluate 57 photographs for covey presence. Overall true positive rate was 0.551, but improved with increasing covey size. Coveys in grass had lowest true positive rate by photograph (0.403), followed by forest (0.562) and shrub (0.605). Results indicate that thermal sUAS could be a viable method for surveying intact bobwhite coveys, especially if detection of smaller groups and those in denser vegetation improves.

URI

https://hdl.handle.net/11668/20858

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