Conservation and Trapping News

BobcatCoyoteRaccoon: The effect of scent lures on detection is not equitable among sympatric species
Oct 15, 2022 07:07 ET


Context. Camera trapping is an effective tool for cost-efficient monitoring of species over large temporal and spatial scales and is becoming an increasingly popular method for investigating wildlife communities and trophic interactions. However, camera trapping targeting rare and elusive species can be hampered by low detection rates, which can decrease the accuracy and precision of results from common analytical approaches (e.g., occupancy modeling, capture-recapture). Consequently, researchers often employ attractants to increase detection without accounting for how attractants influence detection of species among trophic levels. Aims. We aimed to evaluate the influences of a commonly used non-species-specific olfactory lure (i.e., sardines) and sampling design on detection of four species (i.e., bobcat [Lynx rufus], coyote [Canis latrans], raccoon [Procyon lotor], and eastern cottontail [Sylvilagus floridanus]) that represented a range of foraging guilds in an agricultural landscape. Methods. We set 180 camera stations, each for ~28 days, during the summer of 2019. We set cameras with one of three lure treatments: (i) olfactory lure, (ii) no olfactory lure, or (iii) olfactory lure only during the latter half of the survey. We evaluated the influence of the lure at three temporal scales of detection (i.e., daily probability of detection, independent sequences per daily detection, and triggers per independent sequence). Key results. The lure tended to positively influence detection of coyotes and raccoons but negatively influenced detection of bobcats and eastern cottontails. The influence of the lure varied among temporal scales of detection. Conclusions. Scent lures can differentially influence detection of species within or among tropic levels, and the influence of a scent lure may vary among temporal scales. Implications. Our results demonstrate the importance of evaluating the influence of an attractant for each focal species when using camera data to conduct multi-species or community analyses, accounting for variation in sampling strategies across cameras, and identifying the appropriate species-specific temporal resolution for assessing variation in detection data. Furthermore, we highlight that care should be taken when using camera data as an index of relative abundance (e.g., as is commonly done with prey species) when there is variation in the use of lures across cameras.

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