Nature conservation scientist Prof. Dr. Çağan Şekercioğlu, doctoral students Austin Green and David Blount and Utah State University faculty member Asst. Assoc. Dr. Two articles by Mark Chynoweth explaining the importance of photocatchers in the conservation and management of wildlife were published in “Biological Conservation” and “Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution” scientific journals.
The study, which summarizes 3,326 scientific articles, became the most comprehensive photo trap literature review articles ever made. In these articles, it was stated that photo traps are suitable for basic research topics such as the presence of animal species, relative abundance, population density, changes in habitats, activities and numbers.
Phototraps have been noted to be of great help in discovering the existence or spread of the new species.
Human impact on wildlife
As one of the most important results, it was stated that photocatchers can also play a role in responding to the effects on human wildlife, developments in biodiversity, reproductive ecology, behavior, inter-species interactions, and even which predator species attack bird nests.
Photo traps as research equipment were cited as an important complement to good research design.
“Not affected by the pandemic”
Prof. Dr. Şekercioğlu said the following:
“Every day is valuable for scientists doing fieldwork. Researchers aiming to apply the scientific method in the best way prepare their equipment, procedures and timelines meticulously in order to collect the required data. For this reason, in the Covid-19 epidemic, an atmosphere of panic occurred in the scientific world. However, we were not too concerned as we knew that the automatic motion sensor photocatcher networks we established would follow the tracks of mammals and birds in the pandemic. “
“The camera is not shutting down”
“These are simply motion-sensor cameras that researchers mount in remote areas on a tree or pole, usually at knee level. These cameras take pictures of moving entities passing by. Since many animals can also be identified through photographs, researchers can also use photocatchers to observe large areas without interfering with animals individually. “
“The eye on the field”
“While the public, nature conservationists and forest guards stayed at home due to the curfews, trespassers, poachers and poachers continued their activities. During the curfews and at many points until today, only photo traps have been our eyes on the field. Now there are photo traps that instantly send e-mail the photo taken with the GSM network. In this way, even if a poacher sees and breaks the photo trap, his photos are already sent to the authorities. “
200-person volunteer team
“Together with my KuzeyDoğa Association team, we have been researching bear, wolf, lynx, badger, roe deer, fox and other wildlife in Eastern Anatolia for 15 years with photocatchers. We are also using 300 photo traps in seven canyons around Salt Lake City to study wildlife living in Wasatch Front canyons, with a team of more than 200 volunteers, led by my doctoral student Austin Green in Utah. “
Puma, black bear, wolf…
Explaining that the cameras have captured tens of thousands of images of many animals such as puma, black bear, prairie wolf, shelter deer, wapit (American red deer) and American lynx, Şekercioğlu continued his words as follows:
“When the Covid-19 measures began, Austin brought training materials online and allowed people on the field team to access the equipment without touching each other. Thus, it was quickly adapted to the epidemic conditions, and crowdsourced data entry continued as usual. The efforts of the local volunteers were inspiring.”
“1509 photo traps in 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, recorded 83 mammal species by taking 166,36 photos in 14 weeks. From now on, we will measure the changes in the mammal population in the USA every year. This study also showed that scientists working in coordination could simultaneously measure the status of an entire continent’s mammals with photocatchers. Our hope is that a similar photo trap project will be realized, covering all regions and even provinces of Turkey simultaneously.”
All season data collected
Stating that photo traps can be set up at the beginning of the year and left on the field until the end of the field season, Austin Green noted that many photo traps projects on a global scale allow data collection during field studies during pandemic constraints.
“All of the new models have outstanding battery life and memory capacity. “That’s why we were able to use the cameras that we installed before the restrictions for the entire field season, and we were able to collect data for the entire season,” he said.