João Gonçalves (CIBIO-InBIO/UP) | March 6, 2015 - 14h30 | CIBIO-InBIO’s Auditorium, Campus de Vairão




Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are currently providing unprecedented ultra-high resolution imagery of the Earth surface and its applications are growing at a fast pace with some researchers claiming that it “will revolutionize spatial ecology”. Although UAV platforms may hold great promises for applied ecology, a long research road is still to be travelled in particular to demonstrate the ability of this technology to cope with the scale, complexity and dynamics of some vegetation mosaics.
In this seminar two recent applications of UAV imagery will be presented and discussed focusing on obtaining relevant data for vegetation mapping and monitoring. The first example, developed in the ‘Serra d’Arga’ mountain range (a Natura 2000 site in NW Portugal), will show an approach for mapping fine-scale and disturbance-dependent habitat types with an emphasis on two priority and legally protected habitats: Nardus grasslands (habitat type 6230*) and Atlantic wet heath (habitat type 4020*). The second example, developed in Mindelo sand dunes, focused on detecting and mapping Carpobrotus edulis (aka “chorão-das-praias”) an invasive species currently threatening natural vegetation of this complex ecosystem.
The obtained results highlight the relevance and potential of UAV platforms for monitoring protected sites undergoing fast transformations. In face of these results, we will also discuss the potential of UAV platforms to fulfil legal reporting obligations of EU member-states while at the same time providing the means to reduce costs associated with intensive in-field assessments and acquisition of earth-observation data. Join us in this brief tour through the fascinating “dawn of drone ecology”!


João Gonçalves is a second year PhD student at the Predictive Ecology Group (PRECOL) in CIBIO-InBIO with a thesis entitled: “An integrated framework for cost-efficient biodiversity monitoring and ecological change assessment at regional and local scales” funded by FCT.


Image credits: João Gonçalves