Description Table of Contents Author s Bio. Summary In the face of so many unprecedented changes in our environment, the pressure is on scientists to lead the way toward a more sustainable future. Written by a team of ecologists, Monitoring Animal Populations and Their Habitats: A Practitioner's Guide provides a framework that natural resource managers and researchers can use to design monitoring pr.
Table of Contents Introduction.
Red Squirrels | The Wildlife Trusts
Lessons Learned from Current Monitoring Programs. Community-Based Monitoring. Goals and Objectives Now and Into the Future. Designing a Monitoring Plan. Putting Monitoring to Work on the Ground. Field Techniques for Population Sampling and Estimation. Techniques for Sampling Habitat. Database Management. Data Analysis in Monitoring.
In summary, we had envisaged collecting a large quantity of high-quality, time-stamped data from a well-replicated field trial. Summary findings from Case Study 2 comparing time-lapse images with corresponding records from a motion-activated camera trap deployed at two different heights see Fig. Our choice of camera trap was based on balancing available funding, cost per unit and the number of sites we wished to monitor.
Our exploration of camera trap use among UK governmental and non-governmental organisations, and also the peer-reviewed literature, suggests that such compromise-based decisions on the choice of camera trap model are widespread. Among the UK non- governmental organisations that provided us with information, cost was cited as the main reason for purchasing a particular camera trap. Like many users, we were eager to use camera traps as a tool for monitoring elusive species that generally occur at low population density in remote locations.
At the outset of our study we had a general awareness of some of the limitations reported in the literature. We believed that the potential benefits of using camera traps in conjunction with appropriate analytical methods would overcome the known challenges. We recognise that our experiences will relate directly to the cameras we used and the environments we worked in, and may thus not be representative of other contexts. While we acknowledge that our case studies are context specific, the experiences we report on here may help guide those not directly involved in camera trap research and who may have high expectations of the technology, but may be less aware of the potential advantages of deploying more expensive and reliable models Meek et al.
The following sections provide some specific insights into the occurrence of false positives and negatives, two of the more widely acknowledged problems with camera traps, and our attempts to understand the causes of these. Our experience shows that camera traps can generate large numbers of spurious detections false positives which can rapidly fill up memory cards, drain batteries and overwhelm available image storage capacity.
Moreover, the subsequent need to process large numbers of images is very time consuming and delays, if not prevents, interpretation of data and its use in wildlife management and conservation. Our first case study brought out a huge variation in the number of false positives between cameras of the same make and model and between sites. The most exposed site of the three had by far the most false positives, which made us suspect that strong winds triggered images because the camera was detecting changes in temperature due to either moving vegetation Fig.
By their nature it is difficult to identify and quantify false negatives.
However, our comparison with cameras recording regular time-lapse Case Study 2 revealed a surprisingly high proportion of false negative responses. They present a serious issue as this may lead to animals being missed or species being under-represented in a study, leading to bias in subsequent analysis. We were once more unable to identify what factors were driving the high occurrence of false negatives because our attempts to do so were hampered by camera failure, problems synchronising images from different cameras within and between deployments, and difficulties matching imagery with meteorological data.
Thus, there seem to be conditions under which PIR sensors may not be particularly effective at reliably triggering camera traps. This may be exasperated because many recreational camera traps tend to be optimised to detect the larger mammals and birds of interest to American and northern European hunters Meek and Pittet Differences in camera sensitivity and in the detectability of individuals and species are well known Nichols et al. Given the variation in species detectability and the occurrence of false negatives Hamel et al. While time-lapse photography can still result in many images and associated challenges, it does allow for a robust interpretation of positive and negative images and provides a record of duration of camera functioning.
Use of time-lapse, however, runs the risk of missing events that occur between time-lapse images, and in environments where animal density is low such an approach may not be appropriate Hamel et al. Good survey design and appropriate analytical methods can address some of the problems encountered with camera trap technology, and for example can accommodate differences in animal detectability e. Royle et al. However, these techniques still rely on robust data and the accompanying image meta-data, but our experiences demonstrate that securing these from camera trapping surveys may be more challenging than first appreciated.
In addition, the capacity of camera traps to collect huge numbers of images, or video, and associated challenges for data management and processing pose a significant, but often under-rated challenge that users need to appreciate along with the deployment and operation issues raised here and in other recent reviews Harris et al. Camera traps offer a powerful tool for studying and monitoring a range of wildlife, and their use is likely to continue to grow.
Based on our experiences reported here, we urge practitioners to carefully consider the costs and benefits of different makes and models of camera trap. To assess the advantages and disadvantages of different camera traps it is essential that users have a sufficient understanding of the limitations associated with this technology and its applications in different settings. With potential problems in mind, some of which we highlight here, practitioners would be advised to carry out a pilot study comparing different camera traps to assess their suitability and identify problems, and find which model best meets their requirements.
We suggest three areas where camera trap manufacturers can contribute to developing user-friendly, flexible fit-for-purpose devices suitable for research. First, one of the most fundamental shortcomings of currently available commercial digital camera traps is that they are closed systems with limited options for customisation Meek and Pittet Pre-defined user-selectable options mean that in principle most camera traps are simple to set up.
However, they usually lack a user-friendly interface and the flexibility that would extend their utility by, for example, the option for users to add different detectors or other peripheral sensors to allow cameras traps to meet different research needs over their life-time. Second, image management would be improved if camera traps allowed images to contain a greater variety of, preferably user-definable, labels e. Third, while there are desktop applications for automating image processing e.
While there are some very reliable high-end camera traps on the market suitable for a wide range of studies we believe there is a need for a flexible, modular, open-source camera trap platform that users can freely adapt to address specific research questions and exploit emerging technology, and which helps address some of the limitations associated with many commercially available camera traps.
We are grateful for access to private land where much of the field work took place. His research interests include multimedia communications, image and video processing and embedded systems. He is attached to the dot rural Digital Economy Hub.
Monitoring Animal Populations and Their Habitats: A Practitioner's Guide
He conducts research in Internet Engineering, thereby focusing on satellite broadband, video streaming, use of microcontrollers for sensing and transport protocol design. His research interests include Internet video streaming, applications of microcontrollers to sensing and design of video-processing algorithms. His interests lie in natural resource management and the interaction between people and the environment.
Scott Newey, Email: ku. Paul Davidson, Email: ku. Sajid Nazir, Email: ku. Gorry Fairhurst, Email: ku. Fabio Verdicchio, Email: ku. Justin Irvine, Email: ku. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Ambio v. Published online Oct Sajid Nazir dot. Justin Irvine.
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This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Introduction Camera trapping, the use of remotely triggered cameras that automatically take images of animals passing in front of the camera, is hugely popular with wildlife enthusiasts and recreational hunters who want to detect the presence of animals of interest. Open in a separate window.
Case studies We employed camera traps as part of an ecological study to investigate the occurrence of wild animals around deer carcasses in a remote and exposed location in the Scottish mountains during winter Case Study 1. Deployment issues Camera setup, via the pre-programmed menus, was technically straightforward but practically rather fiddly because the buttons were small especially problematic when having cold fingers or wearing gloves , and the screen was difficult to read in low light or bright sunlight.
Operational issues Although camera traps boast long battery life and can collect and store tens of thousands of images unattended, they still require regular visits to retrieve data, change batteries and ensure the camera is functioning correctly e. Data management issues Clock re-setting rendered it impossible to compare corresponding time periods among the carcasses. Case Study 2—Determining the causes of false positives: Trials with sheep Intrigued by the high proportions of false positives recorded in Case Study 1, we carried out trials to determine their causes. Deployment issues It was critical that the internal clocks of the motion-activated cameras and the time-lapse camera remained precisely synchronised in order to assess the occurrence of true and false detections.
Data management issues Processing the large amount of data collected by multiple camera traps we had deployed was greatly hampered by the problem of changing asynchrony between the camera trap units. Vegetation Camera height m Time-lapse camera Motion-activated camera Total no. Discussion Our choice of camera trap was based on balancing available funding, cost per unit and the number of sites we wished to monitor.
The issue of numerous false positives Our experience shows that camera traps can generate large numbers of spurious detections false positives which can rapidly fill up memory cards, drain batteries and overwhelm available image storage capacity. The issue of false negatives By their nature it is difficult to identify and quantify false negatives.
Concluding remarks Camera traps offer a powerful tool for studying and monitoring a range of wildlife, and their use is likely to continue to grow. Biographies Scott Newey is a researcher at the James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, and his interests include population ecology and wildlife management. Footnotes 1 www. Contributor Information Scott Newey, Email: ku. Wildlife camera trapping: A review and recommendations for linking surveys to ecological processes. Journal of Applied Ecology. In a very practical terms this means having fewer animals, healthier and better behaved animals and owners that take responsibility for the health and welfare and behaviour of their animal companions.
Our objectives include aiding sustainable dog health programs throughout the Australian states and territories promoting and developing scientific research into improving animal management practices conferences and other educational sessions to promote best practice coordinating dog health programs for communities that request our assistance supporting those communities in managing their dog health programs through veterinary support, public health support and Indigenous environmental health worker support.
Our dog health programs are focussed on the needs and wishes of local people regarding their dogs. And I emphasise wishes of local people regarding their dogs, we do not enforce ours on theirs. Our programs are focused on building capacity for community ownership and them driving their own programs. Through the provision of veterinary services we provide desexing program expertise. We provide a means of managing large dog populations like these in the slide.
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Education and training is one of our critical platforms. The sustainability of programs is achieved through training community members to maintain the elements of dog programs in between vet visits so they are acting as paravets. Our vets work alongside Indigenous community members as they are vital and integral members of the team. We hope to build a more formal school education program to raise awareness in children, especially around the treatment of animals.
We aim to address cruelty to animals because of the established links between animal abuse and child abuse. We have undertaken some of those programs in schools in recent times. We have also hosted a number of highly successful conferences for vets and other practitioners. Just to touch on some of our current partnerships. We have just been given some money from them to develop an educational DVD that will actually accompany this manual.
Queensland Health which brought us over to Queensland last year to provide veterinary training workshops. Clayton did a fantastic job on the cultural awareness program. NT Environmental Health through the development of this manual, various education institutions, assisting NT Shires to develop their animal welfare and control strategic frameworks. And we have international connections through Canadian and Bali dog programs and other programs we support with policies and ways to approach government funding.
Some of our key resources include: our web-based manual for vets that Xavier talked about, which is free to all members, the manual that we going to be talking about today, multiple online papers and documents and resources in our resource library. Most of those are available to the general public, some are member only access. And we have a series of zoonoses fact sheets online. We know that history has shown that short term strategies for dog health programs only have short term effects.
Community developed control programs offer a real way forward. Just in the last month Tiwi Shire decided that they would kill dogs in a community which they did to enforce a dog policy. These methods have not worked: knee-jerk reactionary models white fella top down dictatorial approach culling that never works as a one-off poorly planned and spasmodic vet visits no community ownership no community involvement So we need new approaches and as I said, this is not reinventing the wheel.
So we are not being arrogant here. We must recognise past failures and have culturally sensitive bottom up approaches that are directed towards population control and training local people and focussed on education and dog health, well coordinated visits to achieve the shift from perceived pests to pets.
We all know that the best solution to achieve sustainable programs is undertaken by you, the EHPs, and we have had the pleasure of working with some of you. So as a result of all of you, and the goals that you set at the last conference, here we are launching the manual. So I thought the person that really should be setting the scene is Sam Phelan who cannot be here today as she has a brand new baby. But in between breast-feeding and a load of other kids, and with the pile of dogs and chooks in the back yard we have a video message from Sam to play. Some of you may know me from my work in the Katherine region.
Other people may know me because I presented the Vet Manual for Working in Indigenous Communities at the last conference held in Cairns. It was really as a result of that veterinary manual that I wrote and also a promise that Xavier made at a conference we are launching the manual. The origin of that manual, as I said, was the work done on the previous vet manual, which was really a guide to how to work in Indigenous communities as a vet; what you will need tools of the trade and also how to get around communities.
It is solid, good and relatively simple to work, but translating that information to make it seem simple is quite difficult. I had recruited my sister, who became the illustrator for the environmental health worker manual. And then we looked at how we were going to present the material in the best possible way for environmental health workers who may not speak English as their first language, and who may not read English very well.
The process of developing the manual was by holding two large focus group meetings, one of them the students from Batchelor. Both groups were incredibly generous with their information. And I thank both of the focus groups for making it the manual that it is now, because without their help they just it would not have been what it is today.
We started with focus group meetings at Batchelor and that was great because the range of Batchelor students included people with a lot of history of working and running dog programs in their own communities, right down to students that had just come in. I think they were Cert II students, some of them Cert III students, so a bit of a mixture there, some people with pretty limited knowledge of what the work could entail. They put together ideas about the best way of presenting that information to a non-English literature or non-English speaking audience. So the use of illustrations Julia will talk about later, evolved from the focus groups at Batchelor.