Mangroves drone research turns tide for graduate

Published:

NOTE: This article is older than 12 months

A 30-year-old Peregian Beach resident is planning a new career in conserving coastal ecosystems after he graduated with a USC Environmental Science degree in the same week his study into the mangroves of Weyba Creek Conservation Park was published.

Angus Warfield-McAlpine, who left Sunshine Beach State High School early in Year 12 to complete a carpentry apprenticeship, received a University Medal for his outstanding grade point average of 6.88 out of 7 when he received his degree at the recent USC graduation ceremony.

The international journal Drones published his study, supervised by USC Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography Dr Javier Leon, which assessed the ability of drones to capture forest metrics in a mangrove environment.

“Mangroves are vital ecosystems that store carbon in their biomass, but they are declining across the world due to deforestation and are threatened by climate change,” Angus said. ”More data is needed to ensure their ecological integrity is maintained.

“Our research found that drone mapping could be a more cost-effective, timely and non-destructive method of measuring the height and volume of mangrove canopies to inform carbon inventories.”

Angus, who tutors in a hydrology and geomorphology course at USC, will begin his Honours project with Dr Leon later this year, using drones and artificial intelligence (AI) to quantify the recovery of cyclone-damaged mangroves on Hinchinbrook Island.

“I was working in the oil and gas industry when I became aware of fracking and the impacts of the fossil fuel industry on the global environment, so I enrolled at USC to understand the environment at a deeper level,” he said.

Two highlights of his degree involved travelling to Borneo on an Australian Government New Colombo Plan scholarship and interning with the CSIRO in Canberra.

He said the Borneo trip was a great experience, with activities including vegetation surveys, camera trapping and image classification.

“We travelled by longboat upstream to an isolated research station at Kuala Belalong to explore the rainforest and delved into the complex cave systems in Mulu National Park. Our group also experienced flash floods, mid-air turbulence and mischievous monkeys,” Angus said.

“In Canberra, my three-month CSIRO internship solidified the skills I developed during the degree and taught me new skills in the pivotal area of AI.

“Under the mentorship of researchers at CSIRO’s National Research Collections Australia, I was able to train a computer algorithm to recognise the species of eucalyptus seeds, which could potentially be developed further to allow non-experts to identify any type of seed using only an image.”

Angus last year won two University prizes. He was the highest achiever in the Terrestrial Vertebrate Diversity and Ecology course, and joint highest in the Environmental Science program.

 
Community Environment Science & Research University & TAFE
Social:   

University Of The Sunshine Coast : View Full Profile
90 Sippy Downs Drive, Sippy Downs
07 5430 1234
University Of The Sunshine Coast
Showing 10+ recent articles for this business
Benefits for reef water quality and grazing in joint project 02 June 2020 | Research by a USC PhD graduate that used the latest drone-based remote sensing techniques to investigate sediment sources to the Great Barrier Reef is the catalyst for a joint project by the University and Aust... More information...
Academic to launch sun bears book on World Environment Day 04 June 2020 | The bear hugs will be virtual on World Environment Day this Friday 5 June when USC doctoral student and academic Sarah Pye launches her new book about one man’s quest to save a species. More information...
USC provides free toolkit for job seekers 03 June 2020 | With COVID-19 lockdowns severely disrupting the Australian job market, the USC Business School has stepped forward to provide free assistance to those applying for jobs. More information...
Word power helps illustrator bring stories to life 01 June 2020 | The 52-year-old from Bribie Island enrolled at USC soon after her first picture book, Was Not Me! was published by Harper Collins in 2016 and shortlisted for Speech Pathology Australia's Book of the Year. More information...
Caboolture graduate uses degree to help chronically ill 27 May 2020 | New USC graduate Maddison Schuster is now among the hundreds of Sunshine Coast social workers striving to help chronically ill older people access support services, particularly in the age of COVID-19 restricti... More information...
Students help 100 local brands adjust to COVID-19 27 May 2020 | Chef-cooked meals delivered to your door, live-streamed music gigs and home workouts are all signs of brands adjusting well to COVID-19 restrictions, says a USC Australia social media expert. More information...
Thomas searches for gene switch secret 26 May 2020 | USC Honours student Thomas Banks, 21, believes that lobsters could hold the key to understanding an ancient evolutionary mechanism used to “turn off” genes in animals. More information...
New USC graduate on the ball with career decision 21 May 2020 | James Harbidge certainly had 20/20 vision when he deferred his seventh year of refereeing with Queensland Rugby League for his first graduate job on the opposite side of the country. More information...
‘Smart clothes’ on agenda for Moreton Minds talk 25 May 2020 | Wearable technology is changing the way we live, work and play, says the host of an upcoming online talk on the topic. More information...
Graduate goes from catering for parties to caring for patients 21 May 2020 | After previously working as a wedding caterer and chef in Melbourne and Noosa, new USC graduate Nicole Wright is now employed as a mental health nurse at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital (SCUH). More information...


comments powered by Disqus

All articles submitted by third parties or written by My Sunshine Coast come under our Disclaimer / Terms of Service