Interspecific vegetation assessment in arid ecosystems using unmanned aircraft systems (drones)

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Dr David Gallacher, Zayed University, Dubai UAE

Corresponding author: 
David Gallacher

Monitoring of rangeland phytomass and plant community structure is essential for sustainable management and to provide proof of long-term change (Holechek et al 2010). Aerial monitoring by drones provides an objective measure of phytomass spatial distribution that has become routine, but temporal distribution adds both opportunities and challenges for data collection and analysis. Biodiversity assessment by drone is unreliable (Laliberte 2012), but there is potential for assessing phytomass change within and among taxonomic groups in arid rangelands, by repeatedly sampling areas in which perennial plants have been classified manually. This approach will be discussed with examples from a trial study of a Prosopis cineraria forest.


Holechek, J. L., Pieper, R. D., & Herbel, C. H. (2010). Range Management: Princi-ples and Practices (6 edition). Boston: Prentice Hall.

Laliberte, A. (2012, Spring). Mapping rangelands with unmanned aircraft. Professional Surveyor. Retrieved from

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