Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Camera Trapping Project


Just read in the Marin IJ about this big camera trapping project. It's funny because I've spotted a couple of camera traps on Mt. Tam and often found myself looking for them as I've hiked around the mountain. The Marin Wildlife Picture Index Project has been collecting images on more than 100 camera traps since late 2014, in several Marin County parks. Volunteers are needed to catalog images (done during the workday, alas; see May 19, 24, June 2, 16) and maintain the traps (swap out batteries and memory cards).

I was interested to read that they lay out the camera traps without an eye for likely areas such as animal trails, den areas, streams or water holes: "The WPI utilizes motion-activated wildlife cameras that are positioned along a grid at regular intervals across a large area. The grid provides non-biased sampling locations...." Nevertheless, some cameras are positioned along trails, as the image of the mountain lion shows. I'm not sure why a grid bias is preferable to a habitat bias, but it is kind of surprising to see images from fairly random-looking vantage points -- a benefit of operating dozens of cameras over a long period of time.

I'd started my own project about a year before this one got under way, but my efforts were about satisfying my own curiosity about what animals might turn up in various locations that I had a definite bias for. The data are in bits and pieces and show no complete picture of anything, but they were always fun to collect.

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