This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Effects of hunting frequency on wintering waterfowl abundance using UAVs




Hansey, Brittany

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Forestry and Wildlife Science


Waterfowl managers must navigate trade-offs between providing sustainable waterfowl populations and hunting opportunities to establish effective waterfowl hunting regulations. Assessing these trade-offs requires information on how hunter disturbance affects wintering waterfowl use of hunted lands. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are an emerging technology that can be utilized for surveying wintering waterfowl to meet various objectives. We implemented a study in the Tennessee River Valley (TRV) in North Alabama to quantify effects of hunting frequency on waterfowl relative abundance on state management units and provide a UAV survey protocol for future waterfowl research. We observed low relative abundances on hunted areas during both day and night compared to refuges. Our UAV survey protocol enabled us to obtain imagery with sufficient resolution to identify waterfowl during the day and detect and count individuals at night.