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Worcester Geographers to Assist Researchers in Chile

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Researchers from the University of Worcester will be assisting in a major project looking to protect endangered species in a Chilean river.

Principal Lecturer in Physical Geography, Dr Ian Maddock, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Caroline Wallis and PhD student Amy Woodget are taking part in a research project looking at hydraulic habitats on the San Pedro River.

The trio will be helping researchers from the University of Concepcion in Chile to understand the complex relationship between the physical nature of the river and its flow, and how that influences the different species that live within the river.

Dr Maddock said: “The University of Concepcion has an on-going research project on the San Pedro River, where there are currently plans to build a dam. Obviously putting a dam into a river has major impacts on the flow and subsequently the habitats and species.

“We have been asked to go and assist in the research and will be sharing our expertise, as well as gaining knowledge from the work that they are carrying out to bring back and share with our students at Worcester.”

The three will travel to Chile for 10 days in May and are hoping to take with them a state-of-the-art piece of equipment currently in use at Worcester to assist in the research. The Draganflyer X6 is an unmanned aerial vehicle, capable of capturing high resolution images, which in this instance could help monitor and characterise in-stream habitats. The University of Worcester is one of only a handful of universities to own, and have a licence to fly, the equipment.

Amy Woodget, who’s PhD involves using the Draganflyer, said: “Such monitoring is increasingly important as land-use changes, channel engineering, water abstraction and climate change are modifying the baseline conditions of river systems. This is particularly pertinent given the current controversy surrounding hydroelectric dam building in Chile.”

The University uses the Draganflyer to collect low altitude (below 120 metres), high resolution aerial images for environmental monitoring with undergraduate students and for staff and student research. It can also be used for obtaining aerial photographs for a range of other purposes such as planning applications, building surveys, property marketing and 360° aerial panoramas for websites. For further details about using the Draganflyer please contact Dr Ian Maddock on 01905 855180 or i.maddock@worc.ac.uk