Monitoring colonies of large gulls using UAVs: from individuals to breeding pairs

Alejandro Corregidor Castro, Marie Riddervold, Thomas Eske Holm, Thomas Bregnballe

    Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


    Measuring success or failure in the conservation of seabirds depends on reliable long-term monitoring. Traditionally, this monitoring has been based on line transects and total or point counts, all of which are sensitive to subjective interpretation. Such methods have proven to consistently record fewer individuals than intensive efforts, while requiring many hours of fieldwork and resulting in high disturbance. New technologies, such as drones, are potentially useful monitoring tools, as they can cover large areas in a short time, while providing high-resolution data about bird numbers and status. This study conducted two types of Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle (UAV) surveys in a big colony of multispecies breeding gulls. From a 25 m height, we photographed 30 circle plots where nests were also counted on the ground, showing that the number of occupied nests/breeding pairs could be estimated accurately by multiplying the number of counted individuals with a 0.7 conversion factor. A fixed-wing UAV was used to photograph the entire island to compare drone counts with counts conducted by traditional methods, were we counted a higher number of breeding pairs than the traditional count (1.7–2.2 times more individuals). It was concluded that UAVs provided improved estimates of colony size with much reduced monitoring effort.

    StatusUdgivet - 28 okt. 2022