Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


McConnell, Mark D.

Committee Member

Evans, Kristine O.

Committee Member

Iglay, Raymond

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Visible to MSU only for 2 years

Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Campus Access Only


Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture

Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Forest Resources


Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture


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.