Using planet labs imagery to track caribou: a pilot study
Honours Bachelor of Environmental Management
DisciplineNatural Resources Management
Aerial remote sensing
Unmanned aerial vehicles
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Using satellite imagery from an earth imaging company called Planet Labs, this study aimed to see whether Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) could be tracked through a disturbance path left by migrating herds. To examine the efficacy of this procedure, evaluations were based upon whether this process could be equally or more efficient/effective in terms of tracking and costs than telemetry collaring methods. For comparison, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry caribou collar telemetry data was obtained from the Natural Heritage Information Center. This data was compared with satellite imagery from Planet Lab’s 5-meter resolution RapidEye Satellites. To accomplish this, imagery for four areas was obtained for prior to the caribou’s arrival and for the timestamped arrival of the caribou. Change detections were run on these four areas that all conclusively resulted in not being able to track caribou through disturbance patterns using the RapidEye 5m resolution imagery. Although the caribou could not be tracked with the 5m resolution future research could examine the concept with 3m or 80cm resolution imagery from Planet if newer telemetry data ever becomes available.