Using thermal infrared imagery produced by unmanned air vehicles to evaluate locations of ecological road structures
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The aerial photos and satellite images are widely used and cost efficient data for monitoring and analysis of large areas in forestry activities. Nowadays, accurate and high resolution remote sensing data can be generated for large areas by using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) integrated with sensors working in various spectral bands. Besides, the UAV systems (UAVs) have been used in interdisciplinary studies to produce data of large scale forested areas for desired time periods (i.e. in different seasons or different times of a day). In recent years, it has become more important to conduct studies on determination of wildlife corridors for controlling and planning of habitat fragmentation of wild animals that need vast living areas. The wildlife corridors are a very important base for the determination of a road network planning and placement of ecological road structures (passages), as well as for the assessment of special and sensitive areas such as riparian zones within the forest. It is possible to evaluate wildlife corridors for large areas within a shorter time by using data produced by ground measurements, and remote sensing and viewer systems (i.e. photo-trap, radar and etc.), as well as by using remote sensing data generated by UAVs. Ecological behaviors and activities (i.e. sheltering, feeding, mating, etc.) of wild animals vary spatially and temporally. Some species are active in their habitats at day time, while some species are active during the night time. One of the most effective methods for evaluation of night time animals is utilizing heat sensitive thermal cameras that can be used to collect thermal infrared images with the night vision feature. When the weather conditions are suitable for a flight, UAVs assist for determining location of corridors effectively and accurately for moving wild animals at any time of the day. Then, the most suitable locations for ecological road structures can be determined based on wildlife corridor data. In this study, the possibilities of using remote sensing data within thermal band produced by UAVs were investigated for positioning of ecological road structures.