Camera trap sampling design captures promising results

Monitoring carnivores is hard: most of these species are rare, live in remote areas and avoid contacts with humans. In addition, targeting multiple species results in specific challenges that biologists have to address considering the differences in habitat use, movement patterns and behaviour among all the species of interest. In particular, camera trapping of multiple species of carnivores requires specific considerations to increase the otherwise low detection rates. Additionally, this increase in detection should be homogeneous among species.

For these reasons, Conservation Science doctorate student Fabiola Iannarilli and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) wildlife biologist John Erb have started a camera trap survey to test different lure types and strategies for camera sites selection and deployment. The aim is to identify a sampling design that will be effective in detecting carnivores occurrence and will engage the public in the deployment of cameras. They have already run two sessions (spring and fall) of data collection in 2016 and will soon start the sampling for 2017. During each session, they deploy 100 remote cameras in different forest types in northern Minnesota (close to Grand Rapids) for a period of six weeks.

Iannarilli is in the second-year of her doctoral program, advised by John Fieberg and Todd Arnold. She comes from Italy where she received a master’s degree in eco-biology. She is currently working with the MNDNR to develop a sampling design to monitor the occurrence and distribution of carnivores in the state. The study targets large carnivores such as black bears, wolves, coyotes and bobcats, as long as medium-small carnivores, such as martens, fishers, raccoons, and red and grey foxes.