Ahaa

Alternative Media

A Rover In Penguin’s Clothing Causes Less Fuss

A Rover In Penguin’s Clothing Causes Less Fuss

Michael Keller

How do you get to hang out with penguins and elephant seals without raising much of a fuss? Let a rover be your guide.

In the ongoing quest to understand and conserve wildlife, researchers need to collect data on species for science and management goals. But humans and animals don’t mix very well in the wild, and getting information can cause a great deal of stress to individuals and populations. The presence of people can be so disturbing to animals that it even biases the data scientists are trying to collect.

Wildlife researchers are well aware of this problem and many are turning to new technologies to get a glimpse of animals while minimizing interference in their lives. Some are using drones, DNA and satellites to monitor species movements and thwart poaching. Others are deploying autonomous tools like camera traps and undersea gliders to better understand how and where wildlife operate in their habitats. Now, a group has shown that little rovers can bring the animal world closer while less significantly changing the behavior of the creatures being studied.

image

“Approaching wild animals to collect data on their phenotypic traits induces stress, escape behavior and, potentially, breeding failure and therefore jeopardizes the quality of the collected data,” an international team writes in a study published today in the journal Nature Methods. “Even after habituation, human approaches and manipulations induce near-instantaneous, large and long-lasting increases in stress hormones.”

In an attempt to overcome this problem, the group has shown that small robotic rovers investigating breeding king penguins cause the animals less stress than if a human had come plodding along. The scientists equipped their rover with a sensor that could read radio-frequency identification tags, which had previously been implanted in some of the animals and can only be read at close range. Researchers commonly gather information on specific animals using RFID tags that identify individuals and assign their location GPS coordinates. Over time, this data log becomes an important record of animal movement and behavior.

To see whether a person carrying an RFID reader or a remotely controlled rover equipped with the reader caused penguins more stress, Yvon Le Maho from the University of Strasbourg in France and colleagues outfitted 34 king penguins with heart-rate monitors to measure their stress response when either came close. Heart-rate readings showed a significantly lower response to the little rover than an approaching human. They also camouflaged the rover with a toy in the shape of a baby king penguin. They found that this disguise allowed the rover to get close enough even to shy penguins to read their RFID chips.

image

(The rover was able to infiltrate the emperor penguin crèche without disturbance, thus demonstrating the possibility to use such a camouflaged rover to collect data from locations within a colony that are not accessible to a human investigator. Courtesy Nature Methods/Le Maho, et. al.)

“When approached by a remote-operated vehicle (rover) able to make radio-frequency identifications, wild penguins had significantly lower and shorter stress responses (determined by heart rate and behavior) than when approached by humans,” they conclude in their paper. “Upon immobilization, the rover—unlike humans—did not disorganize colony structure, and stress rapidly ceased.”

image

More success came from the rover’s interaction with nearby lounging elephant seals. The unit approached the animals’ heads and tails without disturbing them, an action that, if done by a human, would cause a great deal of stress.

They say this work shows that rovers could also be used in aquatic or aerial environments to collect data from a range of animals with less bias introduced by the collection method. Such unmanned vehicles could also be equipped with more advanced instruments to provide more streams of information, like recordings of animal vocalizations or other important data.

All gifs: The rover approaching king penguins and southern elephant seals on a beach. Gifs created from video courtesy of Le Maho, et. al.

Top Image: Brooding emperor penguin with its chick approached by a rover camouflaged with a fake chick. Courtesy Nature Methods/Le Maho, et. al.

Advertisements
ultimatemindsettoday

A great WordPress.com site

The Get Involved Group at Possability People

A user-led group which aims to ensure disabled peoples’ voices are heard when services are planned and changed in Brighton and Hove.

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Freedom Is Just Another Word...

Rules?? What Are rules? I don't need no stinking rules!!!

Shishjamo

Random Commentary.

riotthill's blog

just sayin' :: wen e scott

The Dude With A Blog

Todays News Yesterdays History

Counter Information

Uncovering the mainstream media lies

Humanity777's Blog

The Church of Christ

REMINGTON CENTER FOR MEDICINES MANAGEMENT AND HEALTH TECHNOLOGIES

House No.1 Majwala Estate Kamulegeya Close, Kiwatule, Nakawa. P.O. Box 33081 Kampala Uganda. +256700801063/+256755553201. remingtonhealthtraining@gmail.com| Extraordinary Competency Training [Short Courses 1 – 5 Days] in Health Services Management| EVERYONE IS ELIGIBLE| PUBLIC & CORPORATE TRAINING|

Dreamwalker's Sanctuary

A Sanctuary for Enlightenment and Peace through Poetry and Inspirational Thoughts as we go through Life

PICZLoad pics a la carte

Watchout Loud and Have PICBliss!

criticaldispatches.com/

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @RichyDispatch

Big Red Carpet Nursing

Fun & Progress!

SteveMcSteveface.com

just a guy, writing stuff on a blog - hoping people will read it

The Year of the Dragon

Adventures in a far off land

araneus1

Short Stories, essays, and photos -- on stuff that interests me

In search of Harris

With a little bit of help from Harris and numerous others

Learning from Dogs

Dogs are animals of integrity. We have much to learn from them.

promisewords

Taking the Promise Giver at His word.

The Creative Mind behind James Creative Arts and Entertainment Company

People who have contributed to society, Social Musings 101

ADHD Made Me Do It

Survive Life with Laughter

The Writer in the Woods

All sorts of thoughts

Ladies Bulletin

Beautiful ladies make beautiful families

tina dunks perceptions

a single unified awareness derived from sensory processes while a stimulus is present

The World according to Dina

Notes on Seeing, Reading & Writing, Living & Loving in The North

Dreaming the World

On the Arts and Healing in Difficult Times

weyfairing

way·far·ing [wey-fair-ing] , noun - traveling, especially on foot.

The Artist and The Dancer

The Dancer, The Artist and their Relationship with Nature

Cardinal Guzman

Encyclopedia Miscellaneous - 'quality' blogging since August 2011

Get It Write

Derek Dubolski: A Writer's Blog:

Uncle Spike's Adventures

Opinion, photography & travel blogging from a small rural farm in Türkiye

Kyopos all around the world.

________Hey, where are you from?

The GOLDEN RULE

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” – George Orwell

MIRAGE

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a persistent one. So get a few laughs and do the best you can. Don't have an ideal to work for. That's like riding towards the mirage of a lake.

Luke Buchanan's blog

Luke Buchanan keeps his finger on the pulse of D.C.'s housing market.

%d bloggers like this: