High-resolution aerial imagery was collected at Palmyra Atoll in October 2016. Collected data include color imagery for all islets at 3.7-cm resolution, multi-band imagery for most islets at 6.5-cm resolution, thermal infrared video, and color video. Imagery datasets are being used to assess vegetation composition, quantify habitat structure, identify relationships between vegetation and environmental variables, and census atoll wildlife populations. Thermal infrared imagery was collected to test the efficacy of aerial systems for detection of groundwater outflows into the reef systems relative to ground-based thermal imagery. High-resolution, stem-level vegetation mapping will provide baseline data prior to contaminant remediation and habitat restoration activities, including the removal of invasive coconut trees (Cocos nucifera). New methods for deployment of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in challenging environmental conditions were tested, and data are being explored for marine fauna census applications. Monitoring of UAS interactions with wildlife at multiple flight altitudes documented no adverse effects of UAS operation on wildlife.
High-resolution imagery collected using UAS allows automated feature extraction of ground-nesting birds over this sooty tern (Onychoprion fuscatus) nesting colony. Data can be used to census and monitor populations of this colony through time.