Going batty: the challenges and opportunities of using drones to monitor the behaviour and habitat use of rays

Semonn Oleksyn, Louise Tosetto, Vincent Raoult, Karen E. Joyce, Jane E. Williamson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


The way an animal behaves in its habitat provides insight into its ecological role. As such, collecting robust, accurate datasets in a time-efficient manner is an ever-present pressure for the field of behavioural ecology. Faced with the shortcomings and physical limitations of traditional ground-based data collection techniques, particularly in marine studies, drones offer a low-cost and efficient approach for collecting data in a range of coastal environments. Despite drones being widely used to monitor a range of marine animals, they currently remain underutilised in ray research. The innovative application of drones in environmental and ecological studies has presented novel opportunities in animal observation and habitat assessment, although this emerging field faces substantial challenges. As we consider the possibility to monitor rays using drones, we face challenges related to local aviation regulations, the weather and environment, as well as sensor and platform limitations. Promising solutions continue to be developed, however, growing the potential for drone-based monitoring of behaviour and habitat use of rays. While the barriers to enter this field may appear daunting for researchers with little experience with drones, the technology is becoming increasingly accessible, helping ray researchers obtain a wide range of highly useful data.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • UAV
  • UAS
  • RPA
  • benthic habitat mapping
  • ray ecology
  • coastal environments
  • batoidea
  • Benthic habitat mapping
  • Ray ecology
  • Batoidea
  • Coastal environments


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