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A remote‐controlled observatory for behavioural and ecological research: A case study on emperor penguins

A remote‐controlled observatory for behavioural and ecological research: A case study on emperor... Long‐term photographic recordings of animal populations provide unique insights into ecological and evolutionary processes. However, image acquisition at remote locations under harsh climatic conditions is highly challenging. We present a robust, energetically self‐sufficient and remote‐controlled observatory designed to operate year‐round in the Antarctic at temperatures below −50°C and wind speeds above 150 km/h. The observatory is equipped with multiple overview cameras and a high resolution steerable camera with a telephoto lens for capturing images with high spatial and temporal resolution. Our observatory has been in operation since 2013 to investigate an emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) colony at Atka Bay near the German Neumayer III research station. Data recorded by this observatory give novel biological insights in animal life cycle and demographic trends, but also in collective and individual behaviour. As an example, we present data showing how wind speed and direction influence movements of the entire colony and of individual penguins. We also estimate daily fluctuations in the total number of individuals present at the breeding site. Our results demonstrate that remote‐controlled observation systems can bridge the gap between remote sensing, simple time‐lapse recording setups, and on‐site observations by human investigators to collect unique biological datasets of undisturbed animal populations. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Methods in Ecology and Evolution Wiley

A remote‐controlled observatory for behavioural and ecological research: A case study on emperor penguins

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References (41)

Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Methods in Ecology and Evolution © 2018 British Ecological Society
ISSN
2041-210X
eISSN
2041-210X
DOI
10.1111/2041-210X.12971
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Long‐term photographic recordings of animal populations provide unique insights into ecological and evolutionary processes. However, image acquisition at remote locations under harsh climatic conditions is highly challenging. We present a robust, energetically self‐sufficient and remote‐controlled observatory designed to operate year‐round in the Antarctic at temperatures below −50°C and wind speeds above 150 km/h. The observatory is equipped with multiple overview cameras and a high resolution steerable camera with a telephoto lens for capturing images with high spatial and temporal resolution. Our observatory has been in operation since 2013 to investigate an emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) colony at Atka Bay near the German Neumayer III research station. Data recorded by this observatory give novel biological insights in animal life cycle and demographic trends, but also in collective and individual behaviour. As an example, we present data showing how wind speed and direction influence movements of the entire colony and of individual penguins. We also estimate daily fluctuations in the total number of individuals present at the breeding site. Our results demonstrate that remote‐controlled observation systems can bridge the gap between remote sensing, simple time‐lapse recording setups, and on‐site observations by human investigators to collect unique biological datasets of undisturbed animal populations.

Journal

Methods in Ecology and EvolutionWiley

Published: Jan 1, 2018

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