"Which camera trap type and how many do I need?" A review of camera features and study designs for a range of wildlife research applications
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Sezione di Biodiversità Tropicale, MUSE -- Museo delle Scienze, Corso del Lavoro e della Scienza 3, 38123 Trento, Italy and Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Centre, Udzungwa Mountains National Park, P.O. Box 99, Mang'ula, Tanzania
KORA, Thunstrasse 31, 3074 Muri bei Bern
Canis lupus Italia, c/o Museo del Paesaggio Storico dell’Appennino, Moscheta, Firenzuola
Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, NSW Department of Industry and Investment, Vertebrate Pest Unit, PO Box 530, Coffs Harbour, NSW 2450
Publication date: 2013-08-05
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2013;24(2):148-156
Automatically triggered cameras taking photographs or videos of passing animals (camera traps) have emerged over the last decade as one of the most powerful tool for wildlife research. In parallel, a wealth of camera trap systems and models has become commercially available, a phenomenon mainly driven by the increased use of camera traps by sport hunters. This has raised the need for developing criteria to choose the suitable camera trap model in relation to a range of factors, primarily the study aim, but also target species, habitat, trapping site, climate and any other aspect that affects camera performance. There is also fragmented information on the fundamentals of sampling designs that deploy camera trapping, such as number of sampling sites, spatial arrangement and sampling duration. In this review, we describe the relevant technological features of camera traps and propose a set of the key ones to be evaluated when choosing camera models. These features are camera specifications such as trigger speed, sensor sensitivity, detection zone, flash type and flash intensity, power autonomy, and related specifications. We then outline sampling design and camera features for the implementation of major camera trapping applications, specifically: (1) faunal inventories, (2) occupancy studies, (3) density estimation through Capture-Mark-Recapture and (4) density estimation through the Random Encounter Model. We also review a range of currently available models and stress the need for standardized testing of camera models that should be frequently updated and widely distributed. Finally we summarize the "ultimate camera trap", as desired by wildlife biologists, and the current technological limitations of camera traps in relation to their potential for a number of emerging applications.
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