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A review of factors to consider when using camera traps to study animal behavior to inform wildlife ecology and conservation

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Anthony Caravaggi, A. Cole Burton, Douglas A. Clark, Jason T. Fisher, Amelia Grass, Sian Green, Catherine Hobaiter, Tim R. Hofmeester, Ammie K. Kalan, Daniella Rabaiotti, Danielle Rivet

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Camera traps (CTs) are an increasingly popular method of studying animal behavior. However, the impact of cameras on detected individuals—such as from mechanical noise, odor, and emitted light—has received relatively little attention. These impacts are particularly important in behavioral studies in conservation that seek to ascribe changes in behavior to relevant environmental factors. In this article, we discuss three sources of bias that are relevant to conservation behavior studies using CTs: (a) disturbance caused by cameras; (b) variation in animal‐detection parameters across camera models; and (c) biased detection across individuals and age, sex, and behavioral classes. We propose several recommendations aimed at mitigating responses to CTs by wildlife. Our recommendations offer a platform for the development of more rigorous and robust behavioral studies using CT technology and, if adopted, would result in greater applied benefits for conservation and management.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere239
Number of pages9
JournalConservation Science and Practice
VolumeEarly View
Early online date19 Jun 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jun 2020

    Research areas

  • Conservation behavior, Management, Observer bias, Remote sensing, Wildlife

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