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A simple method for estimating the effective detection distance of camera traps

Hofmeester, T; Rowcliffe, M; Jansen, PAJ; (2016) A simple method for estimating the effective detection distance of camera traps. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation 10.1002/rse2.25. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Estimates of animal abundance are essential for understanding animal ecology. Camera traps can be used to estimate the abundance of terrestrial mammals, including elusive species, provided that the sensitivity of the sensor, estimated as the effective detection distance (EDD), is quantified. Here, we show how the EDD can be inferred directly from camera trap images by placing markers at known distances along the midline of the camera field of view, and then fitting distance-sampling functions to the frequency of animal passage between markers. EDD estimates derived from simulated passages using binned detection distances approximated those obtained from continuous detection distance measurements if at least five intervals were used over the maximum detection distance. A field test of the method in two forest types with contrasting vegetation density, with five markers at 2.5 m intervals, produced credible EDD estimates for 13 forest-dwelling mammals. EDD estimates were positively correlated with species body mass, and were shorter for the denser vegetation, as expected. Our findings suggest that this simple method can produce reliable estimates of EDD. These estimates can be used to correct photographic capture rates for difference in sampling effort resulting from differences in sensor sensitivity between species and habitats. Simplifying the estimation of EDD will result in less biased indices of relative abundance, and will also facilitate the use of camera trap data for estimating animal density.

Type: Article
Title: A simple method for estimating the effective detection distance of camera traps
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/rse2.25
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/rse2.25
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016 The Authors. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Zoological Society of London. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
Keywords: Camera trap, distance sampling, body mass, vegetation
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1508048
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