Advertisement

Polar Biology

, Volume 39, Issue 7, pp 1329–1334 | Cite as

Measuring the influence of unmanned aerial vehicles on Adélie penguins

  • Marie-Charlott Rümmler
  • Osama Mustafa
  • Jakob Maercker
  • Hans-Ulrich Peter
  • Jan EsefeldEmail author
Short Note

Abstract

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have become a useful tool in polar research. While their performance is already proven, little is known about their impact on wildlife. To assess the disturbance caused on the penguins, flights with a UAV were conducted over an Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) colony. Vertical and horizontal flights were performed between 10 and 50 m in altitude. Penguins’ reactions were video-recorded, and the behavioural response was used to indicate the level of disturbance. During any flight mode, disturbance increased immediately after takeoff and remained elevated at all altitudes between 20 and 50 m. When the UAV descended below 20 m, the disturbance increased further with almost all individuals being vigilant. Only at these low altitudes, vertical flights caused an even higher level of disturbance than horizontal ones. Repetitions of horizontal overflights showed no short-term habituation occurring. Since the results are only valid for the specific UAV model used, we recommend a more extensive approach with different UAV specifications. As the highest flight altitudes already caused detectable but not subjectively visible responses, we also recommend to regard subjective impressions of disturbance with caution.

Keywords

Adélie penguin Unmanned aerial vehicle Drone Disturbance Behaviour analysis Microcopter 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The study was commissioned by the German Federal Environment Agency, Dessau-Rosslau, and funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (UFOPLAN 3713 12 101). We thank the personnel of the Bellingshausen Station for accommodation and support during our expedition. Logistic support was kindly provided by Alejo Contreras and Aerovias DAP on-site and by Alfred-Wegener-Institute in general. Martin Senf helped in the field. Thanks go to Eric Donahue and an anonymous reviewer for extensive language corrections.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Supplementary material

300_2015_1838_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (307 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 307 kb)
300_2015_1838_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (45 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 45 kb)

References

  1. Bates D, Maechler M, Bolker B, Walker S (2014) lme4: linear mixed-effects models using Eigen and S4. R-package version 1.1-7. http://cran.r-project.org/package=lme4
  2. Braun C, Mustafa O, Nordt A, Pfeiffer S, Peter H-U (2012) Environmental monitoring and management proposals for the Fildes Region (King George Island, Antarctica). Polar Res 31:18206. doi: 10.3402/polar.v31i0.18206 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brown P (2008) Fundamentals of audio and acoustics. In: Ballou GM (ed) Handbook for sound engineers, 4th edn. Elsevier Focal Press, Amsterdam, pp 21–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Culik B, Adelung D, Woakes AJ (1990) The Effect of disturbance on the heart rate and behaviour of Adélie Penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) during the breeding season. In: Kerry KR, Hempel G (eds) Antarctic ecosystems. Ecological change and conservation. Springer, Berlin, pp 177–182Google Scholar
  5. Ditmer MA, Garshelis DL, Noyce KV, Laske TG, Iaizzo PA, Burk TE, Forester JD, Fieberg JR (2015) Behavioral and physiological responses of American black bears to landscape features within an agricultural region. Ecosphere 6(3):art28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fowler GS (1999) Behavioral and hormonal responses of Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) to tourism and nest site visitation. Biol Conserv 90:143–149. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3207(99)00026-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Goebel M, Perryman W, Hinke J, Krause D, Hann N, Gardner S, LeRoi D (2015) A small unmanned aerial system for estimating abundance and size of Antarctic predators. Polar Biol 38:619–630. doi: 10.1007/s00300-014-1625-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Grenzdörffer GJ (2013) UAS-based automatic bird count of a common gull colony. Int Arch Photogramm Remote Sens Spat Inf Sci XL-1/W2:169–174. doi: 10.5194/isprsarchives-XL-1-W2-169-2013 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hänninen L, Pastell M (2009) CowLog: open source software for coding behaviors from digital video. Behav Res 41:472–476. doi: 10.3758/BRM.41.2.472 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hanson L, Holmquist-Johnson CL, Cowardin ML (2014) Evaluation of the Raven sUAS to detect and monitor greater sage-grouse leks within the Middle Park population. Open-file report, Reston, p 24Google Scholar
  11. Jouventin P (1982) Visual and vocal signals in penguins, their evolution and adaptive characters. Advances in ethology, vol 24. Paul Parey Verlag, Hamburg and BerlinGoogle Scholar
  12. Levick GM (1914) Antarctic penguins; a study of their social habits, by Dr. G. Murray. Levick. McBride Nast & Company, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Müller-Schwarze D, Müller-Schwarze C (1977) Pinguine. Die Neue Brehm Bücherei, vol 464, 2nd edn. A. Ziemsen Verlag, Lutherstadt WittenbergGoogle Scholar
  14. Mustafa O, Esefeld J, Hertel F, Krietsch J, Peter H-U, Pfeifer C, Ruemmler M-C, Staeding A (2014) Mapping of Pygoscelis penguins by using an UAV in the vicinity of southwestern King George Island. Paper presented at the SCAR open science conference, Auckland.Google Scholar
  15. Pfeiffer S (2005) Effects of human activities on Southern Giant Petrels and skuas in the Antarctic. Dissertation, Friedrich Schiller University JenaGoogle Scholar
  16. R Core Team (2014) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Version 3.1.1. R foundation for statistical computing. http://www.R-project.org/
  17. Ratcliffe N, Guihen D, Robst J, Crofts S, Stanworth A, Enderlein P (2015) A protocol for the aerial survey of penguin colonies using UAVs. JUVS. doi: 10.1139/juvs-2015-0006 Google Scholar
  18. Sarda-Palomera F, Bota G, Vinolo C, Pallares O, Sazatornil V, Brotons L, Gomariz S, Sarda F (2012) Fine-scale bird monitoring from light unmanned aircraft systems. Ibis 154:177–183. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2011.01177.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Schuster KC (2010) Impact of human and other disturbance on behaviour and heart rate of incubating Adélie Penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae). Dissertation, Philipps-Universität MarburgGoogle Scholar
  20. Spurr E (1975) Communication in the Adélie penguin. In: Stonehouse B (ed) The biology of penguins. Macmillan/University Park Press, Baltimore, pp 449–501CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Vas E, Lescroël A, Duriez O, Boguszewski G, Grémillet D (2015) Approaching birds with drones: first experiments and ethical guidelines. Biol Lett 11:20140754. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0754 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Walker BG, Boersma PD, Wingfield JC (2006) Habituation of adult magellanic penguins to human visitation as expressed through behavior and corticosterone secretion. Conserv Biol 20:146–154. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2006.00271.x CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Weissensteiner MH, Poelstra JW, Wolf JBW (2015) Low-budget ready-to-fly unmanned aerial vehicles: an effective tool for evaluating the nesting status of canopy-breeding bird species. J Avian Biol 46:1–6. doi: 10.1111/jav.00619 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wilson R, Culik B, Danfeld R, Adelung D (1991) People in Antarctica—how much do Adélie Penguins Pygoscelis adeliae care? Polar Biol 11:363–370. doi: 10.1007/BF00239688 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie-Charlott Rümmler
    • 1
  • Osama Mustafa
    • 2
  • Jakob Maercker
    • 2
  • Hans-Ulrich Peter
    • 1
  • Jan Esefeld
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of EcologyFriedrich Schiller University JenaJenaGermany
  2. 2.Thuringian Institute of Sustainability and Climate Protection (ThINK)JenaGermany

Personalised recommendations