Using camera traps to assess mammal and bird assemblages in a midwestern forest

C. S. Cloyed, J. A. Crawford, A. I. Dell, C. S. Cloyed, A. I. Dell, L. R. Cappelli, D. A. Tilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Ecologists are increasing the use of remote technologies in their research, as these methods are less labor intensive than traditional methods and oftentimes minimize the number of human errors. Camera traps can be used to remotely measure abundance and community composition and offer the potential to measure some phenotypic traits, such as body size. We designed a camera-trap setup that enabled us to capture images of both large and small animals and used our camera-trap design to investigate the community composition of mammals and birds and to estimate the biomass of mammals along two transects in a conservation reserve in Missouri. One transect ran from the edge of an agricultural field to an upland forest, and the other transect ran from the edge of a wetland to an upland forest. Over the 4.5-wk study, our cameras recorded 2,245 images that comprised 483 individuals of 16 species of mammals and birds. Coyotes Canis latrans and nine-banded armadillos Dasypus novemcinctus were unique to the riparian transect, as were several bird species. Fewer species used the forest immediately adjacent to the agricultural field, but more species used the forest immediately adjacent to the wetland. Biomass estimates from our camera-trap images were similar to those of published accounts. This is the first study to use camera traps to successfully estimate biomass. We showed that the value and utility of camera traps in wildlife studies and monitoring can be expanded by 1) using multiple cameras at different heights from the ground so as to capture different-sized animals and 2) obtaining phenotypic information of the captured animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)496-506
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Fish and Wildlife Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Agriculture
  • Biomass
  • Diversity
  • Edge effects
  • Riparian
  • Species composition


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