Unmanned Aerial Vehicles specially adapted for operation in polar regions were used to study distribution and size of three Pygoscelis penguin species on King George Island (Subarea 48.1) in the austral summer 2014/15 season. During photogrammetric flights the high-resolution images of the penguin breeding colonies were taken. Obtained images were used for estimation of population size and compared with the results of measurements taken at the same time from the ground level. During expedition eight successful photogrammetry missions (total distance 1500 km) were performed. Images were taken with digital SLR Canon 700D, Nikon D5300, Nikon D5100 with a 35mm objective lens. Flights altitude at 350 – 400 AGL (Above Ground Level), allowed images to be taken with a resolution GSD (ground sample distance) less than 5 cm. Precision estimation of individuals count was based on the photo interpretation of images. The use of UAV for monitoring of indicator species, enabled data acquisition from areas inaccessible by ground methods.
Dr Małgorzata Korczak-Abshire (Poland)