Camera trap placement for evaluating species richness, abundance, and activity

Published on : November 29, 2021

Authors : Kamakshi S.Tanwar, Ayan Sadhu & Yadvendradev V. Jhala


Information from camera traps is used for inferences on species presence, richness, abundance, demography, and activity. Camera trap placement design is likely to infuence these parameter estimates. Herein we simultaneously generate and compare estimates obtained from camera traps (a) placed to optimize large carnivore captures and (b) random placement, to infer accuracy and biases for parameter estimates. Both setups recorded 25 species when same number of trail and random cameras (n= 31) were compared. However, species accumulation rate was faster with trail cameras. Relative abundance indices (RAI) from random cameras surrogated abundance estimated from capture-mark-recapture and distance sampling, while RAI were biased higher for carnivores from trail cameras. Group size of wild-ungulates obtained from both camera setups were comparable. Random cameras detected nocturnal activities of wild ungulates in contrast to mostly diurnal activities observed from trail cameras. Our results show that trail and random camera setup give similar estimates of species richness and group size, but difer for estimates of relative abundance and activity patterns. Therefore, inferences made from each of these camera trap designs on the above parameters need to be viewed within this context.

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