TROPICAL GEOGRAPHY ›› 2019, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (4): 616-624.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.003157

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Research Progress on Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for Ecological Remote Sensing Monitoring Based on Bibliometric Assessment

Wang Junli1a,b,c, Ren Shiqi2, Zhang Zhonghua1a,b, Hu Gang1a,b, Fu Ruiyu1a,b,c, Zhou Yuanhui1a,b,c and Peng Xingbing1a,b,c   

  1. (1. a. Key Laboratory of Beibu Gulf Environment Change and Resources Utilization of Ministry of Education; b. The Collaborative Innovation Center of the Ecological Environment and Integration Development in the Xijiang River Basin; c. School of Geography and Planning, Nanning Normal University, Nanning 530001, China; 2. Guangxi Forestry Research Institute, Nanning 530001, China)
  • Online:2019-07-10 Published:2019-07-10


Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have brought technological changes and development opportunities for research in the field of ecological monitoring by remote sensing. Over the past ten years, international scholars have actively conducted research in this field and published many papers, but there have been few reports on the overall development process and research progress in this field. Based on the relevant literature in the Web of Science database between 2004 and 2018, this study analyzed the number of annual papers, authors, countries, institutions, periodicals, keywords, etc., by means of bibliometric statistics and visualization. From the bibliometric perspective, the development process and research progress of international UAV ecological remote sensing monitoring are evaluated. The results show that 381 documents in this field are from 1598 scholars from 646 institutions in 62 countries. From 2004 to 2012, a total of 29 papers were published, with an average of 3.22 articles per year. The number of documents grew slowly. A total of 352 articles were published from 2013 to 2018, with an average of 58.67 articles per year, which shows the explosive growth of the volume of publications. With the advancement of remote sensing technology, UAV remote sensing has become widely used in ecological monitoring. Zarco–Tejada P J (9 papers), Lucieer A (8 papers), and Lopez–Granados F (7 papers) are the top three scholars in the field. USA (101 papers), China (66 papers), and Spain (43 papers) have the greatest comprehensive research strength. The United States Department of Agriculture (24 papers), Spanish National Research Council (24 papers), and Chinese Academy of Sciences (19 papers) lead the world in terms of publications. Although there are many scholars around the world engaged in research in this field, there are relatively few academic exchanges and cooperation between international scholars. Remote Sensing, International Journal of Remote Sensing, and Precision Agriculture are the main journals that publish the literature in this field. In addition to the keywords (unmanned aerial vehicle, drone) used for searching, keywords such as precision agriculture, vegetation indices, and forest inventory are used with high frequency. This result shows that the application of UAV remote sensing in precision agriculture and vegetation survey has always been the focus of research in this field. UAV remote sensing has been applied to monitoring research in many ecological fields in China, and is in a leading position in the world. In order to promote the research on UAV ecological remote sensing monitoring, strengthening exchanges and cooperation between scholars at home and abroad, enhancing technological innovation, and broadening the scope of applications of the field of ecological monitoring are recommended.

Key words: Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, remote sensing, ecological monitoring, bibliometric analysis