Protecting endangered and threatened species is a job that requires unique tasks and relationships between the community, researchers, and technology. To overcome the obstacles that are causing endangerment, data collection collaboration is essential. Researchers’ ability to efficiently compile and communicate project data contributes greatly to the success of protecting listed species. An example of this is happening at Oregon State University through a USDA – funded project to protect the Streaked Horn Lark in the Pacific Northwest, lead by Dr. Randy Moore.
To investigate the life history and the reproductive success of the threatened bird species, the Streaked Horn Lark.
Case Study Highlights
- Increased data collection efficiency and survey location data confidence by upgrading field equipment and technologies.
- Collected conservation biology data to build knowledge of a threatened species.
- Developed a workflow to mitigate species disturbance while collecting data in the field.
- Saved significant time and resources by using advanced industry hardware and software.
In 2003, the Streaked Horn Lark was listed as a ‘candidate’ species. Ever since, Randy Moore has been studying and monitoring the levels of reproductive success in the Streaked Horn Lark habitats that occur annually. The bird relies on open or disturbed grasslands for breeding with the bulk of its remaining habitat in the South Willamette Valley. As grass grows, however, few remaining places provide consistently good habitat for these ground nesters. By collaborating with mobile technology professionals, GeoMobile Innovations, the Streaked Horn Lark project has improved its equipment and protocol to increase the amount of data collected while surveying, to reduce the disturbance to the birds while in the field, and to produce more accurate location data of bird sightings and natural habitat territory. This valuable partnership has allowed Randy and this program to keep current with technology and collect more confident data in less time.
“Consulting with GeoMobile Innovations for this project has made data collection much more efficient, easy, and saved time in the field. Their tools have made difficult data collection goals possible”
— Randy Moore, Oregon State University
Previous protocol required Randy to physically stand on an observed bird’s location with a hand-held GPS. Approaching the Streaked Horn Lark this way disrupts its natural tendencies – so only 1 position fix at a time could be collected with confidence of being within the bird’s natural habitat territory.
Improved tool for this project include employing higher accuracy GPS receivers, incorporating a laser rangefinder, and using software developed by GeoMobile Innovations, LaserGIS. With high accuracy GPS receivers, location data is more precise – and by using a laser rangefinder with accompanied LaserGIS software – surveyors can collect multiple bird sighting locations with enough distance to not disturb the bird while in its natural territory. This streamlined workflow allows Streaked Horn Lark surveyors to stand at one location and use a laser rangefinder to collect bird positions and territory size, which takes significantly less time than their previous survey protocol.
- Laser Rangefinder (TruPulse360)
- LaserGIS for ArcPad laser mapping utility
- Sub-meter GPS receiver (SXBlue II)
- Mobile GIS technical services
“Without upgrading our monitoring hardware and protocol it would be ‘near impossible’ to collect the amount of threatened bird data that we can in a day.”
— Randy Moore, Oregon State University
Overall, this project is a great example of how positive relationships between business and academia can achieve research goals. New data collection capabilities are allowing the Streaked Horn Lark project to provide more threatened species information to land owners, policy makers, researchers and industry specialists, such as GeoMobile Innovations. In turn, communication between these entities will develop more partnerships that build solutions to protect and conserve any listed species.