New Research Demonstrates Effectiveness of LiDAR to Detect Invasive Fish in Yellowstone Lake

Lake Trout from Yellowstone National Park

New research published in the journal Applied Optics describes the potential of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology to locate invasive lake trout. In Yellowstone National Park, lake trout are a non-native species that have disrupted the ecosystems of areas like Yellowstone Lake and drastically reduced the number of native fish species. In order to better detect lake trout as they spawn, the team of researchers, which included Joseph Shaw, Professor of Optics and Electrical Engineering at MSU and IoE Fellow, developed a LiDAR instrument that could be mounted on to a single-engine airplane and then flown across the lake. 

From the Optical Society press release:

"The instrument...could allow those who manage the lake to hunt for invasive fish across a wider area at lower cost, making more efficient use of the approximately $2 million spent on lake trout control each year...'The key problem we address with this research is the need for a method to find where the invasive lake trout spawn so fisheries biologists can deploy various methods of reducing their population,' said [Shaw]. 'There are several other methods being explored for tracking these fish, including acoustic sensing, but an airplane can cover the large lake in a much shorter time than is possible for boats.”

This work was supported by funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the State of Montana and was performed in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado.

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