Tuesday 29 September, 2020

Blue Iguana population being helped by team out of Pennsylvania

Harrisburg University professors and students are using drones and imaging technology to help save the endangered blue iguana of Cayman.

The Cayman Islands Department of the Environment Terrestrial Resources Unit and the National Trust Blue Iguana Recovery Program approached Biology and Ecology Professor Dr Christine Proctor and Geospatial Technology Professor Albert Sarvis from Harrisburg University after they attended a STEM conference in Cayman and showcased their work that helped to detect a threatened rattlesnake species in the United States.

With the support of a Harrisburg University Presidential Research Grant, remote camera traps have been used to track the current population size of released Blue Iguanas as well as the population of feral domestic cats and rats that are a threat to the species. Drones are being used to map the habitat area while remote cameras use motion and thermal heat to capture images of the blue iguanas.

The professors are being aided by HU students to set up remote camera grids and collect high-resolution habitat imagery with drones. Harrisburg University students also will be involved in the post-collection data processing. 

The team was also involved in a preliminary green iguana eradication project that involved the use of drones to locate green iguanas through the use of thermal imaging cameras, which successfully reduced the green iguana population. 

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