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A Review of Unoccupied Aerial Vehicle Use in Wetland Applications: Emerging Opportunities in Approach, Technology, and Data


Recent developments in technology and data processing for Unoccupied Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have revolutionized the scope of ecosystem monitoring, providing novel pathways to fill the critical gap between limited-scope field surveys and limited-customization satellite and piloted aerial platforms. These advances are especially ground-breaking for supporting management, restora-tion, and conservation of landscapes with limited field access and vulnerable ecological systems, particularly wetlands. This study presents a scoping review of the current status and emerging opportunities in wetland UAV applications, with particular emphasis on ecosystem management goals and remaining research, technology, and data needs to even better support these goals in the future. Using 122 case studies from 29 countries, we discuss which wetland monitoring and management objectives are most served by this rapidly developing technology, and what workflows were employed to analyze these data. This review showcases many ways in which UAVs may help reduce or replace logistically demanding field surveys and can help improve the efficiency of UAV-based workflows to support longer-term monitoring in the face of wetland environmental challenges and management constraints. We also highlight several emerging trends in applications, technology, and data and offer insights into future needs.

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