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Idaho State University

Idaho State University, a Carnegie-classified doctoral research and teaching institution founded in 1901, attracts students from around the world to its Idaho campuses. At the main campus in Pocatello, and at locations in Meridian, Idaho Falls and Twin Falls, ISU offers access to high-quality education in more than 250 programs.

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Thesis | Using Uncrewed Aircraft Systems to Create 3D Maps and Suitability Models of Golden Eagle Nesting Sites

The Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (NCA) provides breeding sites for raptors in southwestern Idaho. Biologists have been mapping occupied Golden Eagle nest locations in the NCA since the 1960s, but the steep cliffs used by raptors as nesting sites are difficult to represent on traditional 2D maps. This study used uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) equipped with multispectral sensors to collect imagery over Crater Rings National Natural Landmark within the NCA. Using different sensor systems, UAS platforms, and flight patterns, we investigated the most effective methods to collect imagery to create high quality 3D mapping products. Our findings show that using a façade style flight pattern paired with an obliquely faced red-green-blue camera provided digital maps with few holes and gaps over the cliff faces. We also developed a nest site suitability model using topographic parameters of slope, solar radiation, terrain ruggedness index, and height above the crater floor. The suitability model corresponded to current and historical nesting locations. These maps pinpoint areas important for nesting raptors and have the potential to investigate how changing climate and increasing invasive plants are influencing the availability of nest sites.
Release Date
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Location
Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, Idaho, USA
Temporal Coverage
Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 00:00 to Friday, June 18, 2021 - 00:00
English (United States)
Adhere to third-party data sharing license
Emma Gregory
Contact Name
Donna Delparte
Contact Email
Public Access Level
Data available on:: 
Tuesday, November 22, 2022