Can camera trapping provide accurate estimates of small mammal (Myodes rutilus and Peromyscus maniculatus) density in the boreal forest?

Petra Villette, Charles J. Krebs, Thomas S. Jung, Rudy Boonstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Estimating population densities of small mammals (< 100g) has typically been carried out by intensive livetrapping, but this technique may be stressful to animals and the effort required is considerable. Here, we used camera traps to detect small mammal presence and assessed if this provided a feasible alternative to livetrapping for density estimation. During 2010-2012, we used camera trapping in conjunction with mark-recapture livetrapping to estimate the density of northern red-backed voles (Myodes rutilus) and deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) in the boreal forest of Yukon, Canada. Densities for these 2 species ranged from 0.29 to 9.21 animals/ha and 0 to 5.90 animals/ha, respectively, over the course of this investigation. We determined if hit window - the length of time used to group consecutive videos together as single detections or "hits" - has an effect on the correlation between hit rate and population density. The relationship between hit rate and density was sensitive to hit window duration for Myodes with R 2 values ranging from 0.45 to 0.59, with a 90-min hit window generating the highest value. This relationship was not sensitive to hit window duration for Peromyscus, with R 2 values for the tested hit windows ranging from 0.81 to 0.84. Our results indicate that camera trapping may be a robust method for estimating density of small rodents in the boreal forest when the appropriate hit window duration is selected and that camera traps may be a useful tool for the study of small mammals in boreal forest habitat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-40
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Mammalogy
Volume97
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

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