In the summer of 2013, Ecosynth team members Jonathan Dandois and Dana Nadwodny travelled to Southern Costa Rica to work with a team led by Zak Zahawi of Las Cruces Biological Station and Karen Holl's lab at UCSC to scan their forest "island plots" in the working landscapes of rural Costa Rica.
The work was challenging but successful, and now we have published the work we did together, demonstrating that "Ecosynth UAV remote sensing provides an effective alternate methodology to traditional field-based measures of evaluating forest structure and complexity across landscapes."
One of the most interesting observations from the work is that Ecosynth gave a "bird's eye view" of vegetation- and thereby predicted bird visits better than other field measures.
To better work together in conserving and restoring tropical forest habitats, new tools are important, no less In than innovative approaches, like the "tree island restoration" strategies pioneered by Holl and Zahawi.
More on the research:
Zahawi, R., J. P. Dandois, K. D. Holl, D. Nadwodny, L. J. Reid, and E. C. Ellis. 2015. Using lightweight unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor tropical forest recovery. Biological Conservation 186:287–295. [free download]