Sunday, March 31, 2013

Camera trapping Komodo dragons

A photo of a cage trap (A) used to capture
 Komodo dragons and (B) a camera trap 
photo of a Komodo dragon investigating a 
bait box. Figure 2 from Ariefiandy et al.

Camera traps have enhanced population monitoring of cryptic and low abundance apex carnivores. The effectiveness of passive infrared camera trapping, and ultimately population monitoring, relies on temperature mediated differences between the animal and its ambient environment to ensure good camera detection. In a recent paper in Plos One, Ariefiandy and colleagues (2013) evaluate the effectiveness of camera trapping to  monitor the population status of the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), an apex predator, using site occupancy approaches. They compared site-specific estimates of site occupancy and detection derived using camera traps and cage traps at 181 trapping locations established across six sites on four islands within Komodo National Park, Eastern Indonesia. Detection probability varied as an interaction between site and survey number. Results indicate that overall camera traps produced similar estimates of detection and site occupancy to cage traps, irrespective of being paired, or unpaired, with cage traps. Whilst one site showed some evidence detection was affected by trapping method detection was too low to produce an accurate occupancy estimate. Overall, as camera trapping is logistically more feasible it may provide, with further validation, an alternative method for evaluating long-term site occupancy patterns in Komodo dragons, and potentially other large reptiles, aiding conservation of this species. The entire article is available on-line.

Citation
Ariefiandy A, Purwandana D, Seno A, Ciofi C, Jessop TS (2013) Can Camera Traps Monitor Komodo Dragons a Large Ectothermic Predator? PLoS ONE 8(3): e58800. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058800

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