Evaluating the utility of camera traps in field studies of predation

Christopher K. Akcali, Hibraim Adán Pérez-Mendoza, David Salazar-Valenzuela, David W. Kikuchi, Juan M. Guayasamin, David W. Pfennig

Producción científica: Contribución a una revistaArtículorevisión exhaustiva

18 Citas (Scopus)


Artificial prey techniques-wherein synthetic replicas of real organisms are placed in natural habitats-are widely used to study predation in the field.We investigated the extent to which videography could provide additional information to such studies. As a part of studies on aposematism and mimicry of coral snakes (Micrurus) and their mimics, observational data from 109 artificial snake prey were collected from video-recording camera traps in three locations in the Americas (terra firme forest, Tiputini Biodiversity Station, Ecuador; premontane wet forest, Nahá Reserve, Mexico; longleaf pine forest, Southeastern Coastal Plain, North Carolina, USA). During 1,536 camera days, a total of 268 observations of 20 putative snake predator species were recorded in the vicinity of artificial prey. Predators were observed to detect artificial prey 52 times, but only 21 attacks were recorded. Mammals were the most commonly recorded group of predators near replicas (243) and were responsible for most detections (48) and attacks (20). There was no difference between avian or mammalian predators in their probability of detecting replicas nor in their probability of attacking replicas after detecting them. Bite and beak marks left on clay replicas registered a higher ratio of avian:mammalian attacks than videos registered. Approximately 61.5% of artificial prey monitored with cameras remained undetected by predators throughout the duration of the experiments. Observational data collected from videos could provide more robust inferences on the relative fitness of different prey phenotypes, predator behavior, and the relative contribution of different predator species to selection on prey. However, we estimate that the level of predator activity necessary for the benefit of additional information that videos provide to be worth their financial costs is achieved in fewer than 20% of published artificial prey studies. Although we suggest future predation studies employing artificial prey to consider using videography as a tool to inspire new, more focused inquiry, the investment in camera traps is unlikely to be worth the expense for most artificial prey studies until the cost:benefit ratio decreases.

Idioma originalInglés
Número de artículoe6487
EstadoPublicada - 2019


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