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Article

Accessing the Life in Smoke: A New Application of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to Sample Wildland Fire Bioaerosol Emissions and Their Environment

1
College of Natural Resources, University of Idaho, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814, USA
2
Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-901 83 Umeå, Sweden
3
Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV 89512, USA
4
Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Science, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557, USA
5
USDA-Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Forest Health Research and Education Center, Lexington, KY 40546, USA
6
University of Idaho Extension, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Washington County, Weiser, ID 83672, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 October 2019 / Revised: 8 November 2019 / Accepted: 18 November 2019 / Published: 25 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Unmanned Aircraft in Fire Research and Management)
Wildland fire is a major producer of aerosols from combustion of vegetation and soils, but little is known about the abundance and composition of smoke’s biological content. Bioaerosols, or aerosols derived from biological sources, may be a significant component of the aerosol load vectored in wildland fire smoke. If bioaerosols are injected into the upper troposphere via high-intensity wildland fires and transported across continents, there may be consequences for the ecosystems they reach. Such transport would also alter the concept of a wildfire’s perimeter and the disturbance domain of its impact. Recent research has revealed that viable microorganisms are directly aerosolized during biomass combustion, but sampling systems and methodology for quantifying this phenomenon are poorly developed. Using a series of prescribed fires in frequently burned forest ecosystems, we report the results of employing a small rotary-wing unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to concurrently sample aerosolized bacteria and fungi, particulate matter, and micrometeorology in smoke plumes versus background conditions. Airborne impaction-based bioaerosol sampling indicated that microbial composition differed between background air and smoke, with seven unique organisms in smoke vs. three in background air. The air temperature was negatively correlated with the number of fungal colony-forming units detected. Our results demonstrate the utility of a UAS-based sampling platform for active sampling of viable aerosolized microbes in smoke arising from wildland fires. This methodology can be extended to sample viable microbes in a wide variety of emissions sampling pursuits, especially those in hazardous and inaccessible environments. View Full-Text
Keywords: bioaerosol; smoke; biomass burning; emissions; microorganisms; microbe; drone; prescribed fire; biological diversity bioaerosol; smoke; biomass burning; emissions; microorganisms; microbe; drone; prescribed fire; biological diversity
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kobziar, L.N.; Pingree, M.R.A.; Watts, A.C.; Nelson, K.N.; Dreaden, T.J.; Ridout, M. Accessing the Life in Smoke: A New Application of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to Sample Wildland Fire Bioaerosol Emissions and Their Environment. Fire 2019, 2, 56. https://doi.org/10.3390/fire2040056

AMA Style

Kobziar LN, Pingree MRA, Watts AC, Nelson KN, Dreaden TJ, Ridout M. Accessing the Life in Smoke: A New Application of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to Sample Wildland Fire Bioaerosol Emissions and Their Environment. Fire. 2019; 2(4):56. https://doi.org/10.3390/fire2040056

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kobziar, Leda N., Melissa R.A. Pingree, Adam C. Watts, Kellen N. Nelson, Tyler J. Dreaden, and Mary Ridout. 2019. "Accessing the Life in Smoke: A New Application of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to Sample Wildland Fire Bioaerosol Emissions and Their Environment" Fire 2, no. 4: 56. https://doi.org/10.3390/fire2040056

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