Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Satellite Data to Track Wildlife: Elephants in Space

12.01.2005


Threatened by habitat loss, poaching, pollution and other factors, wildlife species across the globe are declining in number at an alarming rate. Scientists from the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in New York City have been monitoring endangered wildlife populations for more than 100 years. For decades, traditional capture and tag methods have been a primary tool, but they are not the most efficient when dealing with large animals and animals in remote locations. The WCS’s recent use of satellite technology, sponsored by NASA, may revolutionize the way endangered wildlife in remote areas of the world are counted and monitored.



Comparing Ground and Satellite Images: Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) scientists at the Bronx Zoo in New York City recently compared high resolution photographs taken from 450 kilometers (280 miles) overhead by cameras on the Quickbird satellite (the image to the right) with ground-based images of their animals taken simultaneously. The ground-based photo (the image to the left) shows a horse paddock with three horses. The numbered items, including number one, the grassy clearing, number two, a tree, and number three, a fence, can all be seen in the satellite image. WCS scientists are hopeful that they will be able to use this technology to monitor endangered animals in remote locations. Click on images to enlarge. Credit: Wildlife Conservation Society



Using cameras fixed to an orbiting satellite 450 kilometers (280 miles) overhead, WCS scientists say that they will be able to take high resolution photographs of specific areas to determine the wildlife composition within that area. They will then compare images from different dates to see changes, either population growth or decline, over time. The satellite, called Quickbird, is owned by DigitalGlobe, a private company.

To test their proposed use of satellite images, WCS scientists recently counted their own animal populations. High-tech maps produced by Quickbird, which orbited the Bronx Zoo in November 2004, have revealed incredibly clear images of everything from giraffes to Thomson’s gazelles. According to members of the team, the detail of the images taken from so far away has been particularly impressive. "We’re counting individual gazelles in the zoo’s African Plains exhibit from a satellite 280 miles up," said Dr. Scott Bergen. "That’s like standing on top of the Empire State Building and spotting a deer in Maine."


Preliminary results of the study have left scientists hopeful that the technology can be used to monitor endangered wildlife populations that live in hard-to-reach locations, saving them time and money while saving the animals the hardship of being captured and tagged.

Dr. Eric Sanderson, a WCS landscape ecologist who is managing the study said, "Imagine being able to monitor a herd of elephants in the Serengeti, or a flock of endangered flamingos in Bolivia, from a lab in New York. This technology may allow us to do just that."

WCS plans to use the Quickbird satellite technology in the near future to count wildlife in exotic locations, including elephants and giraffes in Tanzania, flamingos in South America, and elk, bison and antelope in Wyoming. WCS scientists will analyze those images as well to compare counts of wildlife living in other wild places. "This experiment is another powerful example of how WCS can use its world-class zoos in New York City to help save wildlife living half a world away," said Richard L. Lattis, General Director of WCS’ zoos and aquarium.

DigitalGlobe developed Quickbird to offer highly accurate, commercial high-resolution imagery of Earth. According to the company’s Web site, "QuickBird’s global collection of panchromatic and multispectral imagery is designed to support applications ranging from map publishing to land and asset management to insurance risk assessment." The satellite is able to geolocate features to within 23 meters (75.5 feet) and create maps in remote areas without the use of ground control points.

WCS, the Bronx Zoo’s parent organization, currently operates more that 350 field conservation projects in 54 countries around the world. WCS’s mission is to combine the resources of wildlife parks in New York with field projects around the globe to help sustain our planet’s biological diversity. The project was funded in part by a grant from NASA in support of the Agency’s mission to improve life here, extend life to there, and to find life beyond.

Katie Lorentz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/elephants_space.html
http://www.nasa.gov

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems
24.07.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht Plenty of habitat for bears in Europe
24.07.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Diving robots find Antarctic winter seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide

15.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Early opaque universe linked to galaxy scarcity

15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>