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Using a drone to protect field hamsters

Together with the Ökologischen Station Mittleres Leinetal (ÖSML, Ecological Station Middle Leinetal), we sent our drone to several grain fields directly after harvest. These fields are located in the Calenberger and Hildesheimer Börde.

The resulting high-resolution orthophotos will be used in a research project for the master study program Landscape Sciences. We want to find out whether the number of hamster burrows that can be identified by the orthophotos equal the number of burrows found by direct field work. The aim of the study project is to develop an aerial image-based assessment method that can augment time-consuming field surveys.

The field hamster (Cricetus cricetus) was very common in the southern Börde area of Lower Saxony. However, intensive and mechanised agriculture has led to an increased isolation and fragmentation of its habitats. The number of field hamsters has been dramatically reduced in the last years.