Flying a Drone to Study Prairie Dogs - Diana Coohill

Published: April 6, 2017
Coohill pilots a drone over a snowy field.

I am interested in the study of social structures of wild animal populations with my advisor Dr. Andrew Martin. A social rodent, the black-tailed prairie dog, provides the perfect system for me to study social structures in the wild. Black-tailed prairie dogs live in dense colonies, are easy to observe and sometimes suffer from outbreaks of sylvatic plague. The overall goal of my project is to study how social individuals are connected through interactions and patterns by taking photographs of prairie dog colonies with a drone. It is possible that the results of my study can help develop predictive models about how disease is spread through prairie dog colonies.