Drones in New Zealand to Examine Threatened Bugs

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Scientists in New Zealand develop Drones and small radars to track insects to protect endangered ones species.

The new technology involves attaching radars to the insects to track their movements. The devices connect electronically to drones that track the insects in real time. The scientists work at the University of Canterbury on the South Island of New Zealand.

The team hopes the technology will lead to a deeper understanding of the country’s troubled insect populations.

The research is based on years of experience in the bird field conservation, in which radio location methods have helped protect many threatened species. But this technology had to be made much smaller for use on insects.

The researchers have now made about 20 small “harmonic” devices that can be attached to insects. The insects can then be tracked over large areas with drones.

Steve Pawson of the university’s College of Engineering told VOA that bird tracking technology led researchers to look for a similar solution to tracking insects.

In this photo, Dr. Stephen Pawson and Dr. Graeme Woodward of Canterbury University, New Zealand announced their equipment used in their wireless radar insect tracking solution on drones. (Photo credit: Canterbury University)

The information from tagged birds, Pawson said, “really informs conservation”. administration. “

That same system can help scientists learn more about many different insect behaviors, he added, such as how far they move, where they forage, and even how long they live.

“If we have this knowledge, then we can” Take it feeds into our decision-making and conservation management plans, ”added Pawson.

Researchers plan to begin testing the system on ground-based insects before moving on to the more complex tracking of insects in flight. They hope to start field testing by 2023.

The team says the research could potentially be useful in other scientific areas, such as biosecurity or medical imaging.

The widely recognized wētā is one of New Zealand’s endangered insects. Native to the South Pacific, the creatures have large bodies, legs with sharp points, and rounded tusks.

Several species of wētā are threatened by the animals that eat them and the destruction of their habitats.

I am Bryan Lynn.

Phil Mercer from VOA News covered the story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in this story

drone – No. a small, unmanned aircraft

species – No. Biology: a group of similar animals or plants that can produce young animals or plants: a group of related animals or plants that is smaller than a genus

track – v. consequences

conservation – No. the act of keeping something from harm, damage, or destruction

Take – v. include something as part of another thing

habitat – No. the natural environment of plants or animals