Drones to Map Invasives

An infestation of eurasian watermilfoil. Credit: saveblacklake.org

An infestation of eurasian watermilfoil. Credit: saveblacklake.org

     "In the lower part of the state it's pretty bad," said Laura Bourgeau-Chavez, a research scientist with Michigan Technological University, referring to the invasive plants that obscure local waterways. "We were doing work in Saginaw Bay, and there are kids who live there and they don't even know there's water there because the weeds are so tall. They're unable to take advantage of the fact that they live next to a Great Lake."

     And, some local researchers have been using the newer drone technology to fly above these infestations, mapping and checking on the spread of phragmites and eurasian watermilfoil. "We're able to lift up aerial cameras and also, as far as I know, unique to my project, we're putting up multi-spectral cameras," said Colin Brooks, senior research scientist at Michigan Tech. That allows them to more easily distinguish the invasive milfoil from other aquatic vegetation.

     Beyond the mapping, scientists hope the drones will help identify which control methods work best and to help researchers understand why. The projects, which are still in the beginning stages, will continue to collect data and observe the invasive plants over the next year before reassessing effectiveness.

     For the full article from jrn.msu.edu click here or on the link available below.