Marine Biology Master's student takes flight researching with drones
Lauren O’Neil and Dr. Amy Ferdinand are conducting a study at a pond located in Byram Township in Sussex County, where Lauren is studying the biology of a species of freshwater clam.
Dr. Amy Ferdinand, a GIS specialist and the Director of Environmental Health and Safety at Montclair State University is mentoring Lauren O'Neil on a special mapping project with the use of a drone. As part of her thesis research, Lauren is mapping the underground bathymetry and above ground elevation of the site to learn as much about the environment of the clam as possible. The drone has Orthophoto/Orthomosiac, Lidar (not sonar), NDVI, and 3D/Point Cloud image capabilities which take elevation and bathymetry data respectively. These new data will be compared to known characteristics of the pond. Lauren anticipates that her research will reveal new information about the habitat of the clam as well as the morphology of the pond. The pond is fed by a stream and some springs in the center of the pond, and empties via a culvert on the south end. The bathymetry data may reflect subsequent sediment deposition on the periphery of the pond, and provide more insight into the suitability of the microhabitats the clams exploit.