Tracking NZ’s threatened bugs with drones
New technology being developed by a research team at the University of Canterbury could lead to deeper understanding of New Zealand’s threatened and endangered insects, paving the way to more effective conservation management.
Dr Stephen Pawson and Dr Graeme Woodward have been working together for three years on wireless solutions for tracking insects using UAV (drone) mounted radar.
New Zealand has more than 1000 threatened or at-risk invertebrate species. In many cases, we know little about how they live, what their home range is, how far they travel or even how long they live. The right tracking equipment would help bridge that knowledge gap and aid the development of more effective conservation management strategies.
Now a University of Canterbury (UC) research team is pooling its expertise across the College of Engineering to hone new tag-and-track technology that could transform our understanding of the insect world. Co-leading the project are School of Forestry senior lecturer and forest entomologist Dr Steve Pawson and signal processing expert Dr Graeme Woodward of the Wireless Research Centre.
“We have fabricated about 20 test harmonic radar tags to date, allowing us to experiment with various parameters and build an understanding of tag design,” says Dr Woodward, adding that these tiny tags can be as small as two or three millimetres wide.
Being developed alongside these tags is associated ‘unmanned aerial vehicle’ (UAV) or drone technology.