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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Help Wanted: Camera trappers, scientists, field/wildlife biologists!

I'm in need of some serious smarty-pants input here!

As I've mentioned in earlier posts (Research Methods in Biology), I'm beginning an undergraduate research field study next week.



Finger Lakes Community College was awarded a sizeable grant which is meant to promote research at the community college level across New York State. I happen to be here when the grant was awarded, and have amazing faculty and staff behind me motivating me to take advantage of the resources!



 
MY QUESTION: Having an issue narrowing it down...

-Effects of scent lures on medium to large sized mammals
-When are medium to large sized mammals most active?
-Does bait influence activity level?


I'm also having some issues with my experimental design....

Briefly: I have 4 Cuddeback Attack IR cameras. I have 5 scent lures (1 canine, 1 carnivore, 2 beaver, 1 woodchuck). I want to use scent lure. I only have 12 weeks to do this. Publishing is NOT an end goal, but would be a perk!

 
I am only using one beaver lure (both are made from castor glands). So I will have a total of 4 scents.

 I am using the Muller Field Station which is in Honeoye, NY. The habitat is a riparian area, with a mown walking path. I've experienced observing the following mammals in one way or another along the "channel path" as we call it: squirrel sp, beaver, muskrat, mink, red fox, river otter, black bear, weasel sp, mice sp, coyote, opossum, raccoon, white-tailed deer, etc etc...basically, lot's of critters!

Here's what I'm working with.
'Kiosk' is the start of the trail, 'Gate' is the end.

I have a half mile (2640ft) to work with, in pretty much a straight line. This is my transect. Here are the two scenarios I'm trying to decide between, and associated questions:

Scenario #1: I'm using 4 cameras, 4 scents. I divide the distance from Kiosk to Gate (2640ft) into 4 sections=660 ft gap between cameras. Week #1 I will randomize order of 4 scents, and deploy in front of cameras onto a scent pad. Weeks #2-#12 I will rotate the scent pad and refresh south one spot each time. The end scent pad will come back to the kiosk end. Etc etc. Each camera will have a repeat of each scent 3 times, for the same amount of time each time.

Camera 1
Camera 2
Camera 3
Camera 4
Week 1     2/6
G
NC
B
TD
Week 2     2/13
TD
G
NC
B
Week 3     2/20
B
TD
G
NC
Week 4     2/27
NC
B
TD
G
Week 5     3/5
G
NC
B
TD
Week 6     3/12
TD
G
NC
B
Week 7     3/19
B
TD
G
NC
Week 8     3/26
NC
B
TD
G
Week 9      4/2
G
NC
B
TD
Week 10    4/9
TD
G
NC
B
Week 11    4/16
B
TD
G
NC
Week 12    4/23
NC
B
TD
G
 G- Gusto          TD- Toxi-Dog          B- Beaver Super All-Call          NC- Num-Chuck
Scenario #2: I use 5 cameras, 4 scent + 1 control (water). I divide the distance from Kiosk to Gate into 5= 528ft gap between cameras. Week #1 I will randomize order of scents + control, and deploy. Control camera would have a scent pad as well that would get a splash of bottled water. Weeks #2-#12 same as above. Each camera will NOT have a repeat of scents/control no more than 2 times, some may be 3 repeats depending on where it falls on my chart.



Camera 1
Camera 2
Camera 3
Camera 4
Control Camera
Week 1     2/6
G
NC
B
TD
C
Week 2  2/13
C
G
NC
B
TD
Week 3  2/20
TD
C
G
NC
B
Week 4  2/27
B
TD
C
G
NC
Week 5   3/5
NC
B
TD
C
G
Week 6  3/12
G
NC
B
TD
C
Week 7  3/19
C
G
NC
B
TD
Week 8  3/26
TD
C
G
NC
B
Week 9   4/2
B
TD
C
G
NC
Week 10  4/9
NC
B
TD
C
G
Week 114/16
G
NC
B
TD
C
Week 124/23
C
G
NC
B
TD
G- Gusto         TD- Toxi-Dog          B- Beaver Super All-Call         NC- Num-Chuck         C- Control (water)


Three questions I have:
  1. Is it necessary to have a control?
  2. Are the camera/scents too close together? I'm concerned with scent drifting.
  3. How should I hang cameras? Perpindicular to the trail, parallel to the trail, or at a 45* angle to the trail?
Success to me would be a rich diversity of mammal species camera trapped, and then watching frequencies of species.

Any and ALL input would be well received. I'm deploying the scent and cameras Monday morning, so I will take the rest of this week to fine-tune my protocol, then sit back and let the critters come to my cameras!

I stopped by the field station today to scope out the conditions. This is a picture of exactly where I'll be hanging my cameras! It was so warm (50*F!), drizzly, foggy...I felt like I was in a temperate rainforest!

1 comment:

  1. I am worried that you are trying to test too many things at once...

    The first thing that strikes me is that a scent lingers even after you remove its source. So, switching from one scent to another won't be a clean switch. You'll still have the previous scent hanging around.

    If I were you, I think that I'd just use "no scent" and one of those scent lures. I'd start with "no scent" at all the cameras since that won't carry over to the next scent. Then, I'd use the scent lure for the second half of the time.

    One problem with that suggestion is that the timing will be synchronized for all the cams, and animal behavior and movement might change simply due to the passing of time. I don't know how to control for that factor...

    I always put my cams at about 45 deg to a trail so that it covers a good distance of the trail but the animal will have enough "horizontal" movement within the frame to trigger the motion detector. If you align your cam with the trail so that the animal moves directly at it or away from it, your camera will be very slow or might not trigger at all since the sensors require horizontal movement for triggering.

    The last thing that I'm wondering is if you should do two separate studies, one of the effect of scent lures and another on "when" medium to large mammals are active. I'm afraid that your scent lure manipulations might confound the answer to the question about the timing of activity.

    Feel free to email me if this doesn't make sense. I had to write it in a hurry!

    ReplyDelete

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~Alyssa