The behavioral responses of a nocturnal burrowing marsupial (Lasiorhinus latifrons) to drone flight

Taylor Headland, Bertram Ostendorf, David Taggart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The use of drones in wildlife research and management is increasing. Recent evidence has demonstrated the impact of drones on animal behavior, but the response of nocturnal animals to drone flight remains unknown. Utilizing a lightweight commercial drone, the behavioral response of southern hairy-nosed wombats (Lasiorhinus latifrons) to drone flights was observed at Kooloola Station, Swan Reach, South Australia. All wombats flown over during both day and night flights responded behaviorally to the presence of drones. The response differed based on time of day. The most common night-time behavior elicited by drone flight was retreat, compared to stationary alertness behavior observed for daytime drone flights. The behavioral response of the wombats increased as flight altitude decreased. The marked difference of behavior between day and night indicates that this has implications for studies using drones. The behavior observed during flights was altered due to the presence of the drone, and therefore, shrewd study design is important (i.e., acclimation period to drone flight). Considering the sensory adaptations of the target species and how this may impact its behavioral response when flying at night is essential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12173-12181
Number of pages9
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


  • anthropogenic impacts
  • drones
  • nocturnal observation
  • UAVs
  • vigilance behavior


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