Best practice for minimising unmanned aerial vehicle disturbance to wildlife in biological field research

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), colloquially referred to as ‘drones’, for biological field research is increasing. However, this new technology could also have undesirable and unforeseen impacts on wildlife, the risks of which we currently have little understanding. There is a need for a code of best practice in the use of UAVs to mitigate or alleviate these risks.

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), colloquially referred to as ‘drones’, for biological field research is increasing. Small, civilian UAVs are providing a viable, economical tool for ecology researchers and environmental managers. UAVs are particularly useful for wildlife observation and monitoring as they can produce systematic data of high spatial and temporal resolution. However, this new technology could also have undesirable and unforeseen impacts on wildlife, the risks of which we currently have little understanding. There is a need for a code of best practice in the use of UAVs to mitigate or alleviate these risks. This paper is a start to that process.

Written by Jarrod C. Hodgson and Lian Pin Koh at Adelaide University, Australia.

Published in Current Biology in May 2016.

An article about the code of practice, containing several relevant links, can be read here.

A review of the disturbance caused by drones was published in 2017.

This page was updated on 10 April 2019

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