Scientists use camera traps to create a database of Amazon wildlife

Wildlife Conservation Society camera traps compile a database on animals in the Amazon rainforest

Puma caught on a camera trap. (Photo: WCS Ecuador)

We may never know the full extent of the beauty of the natural world. But thanks to scientists at Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) we are one step closer to discovering a small corner of the Earth. For conservation research, the organization set up hundreds of camera trap stations throughout the Amazon Basin to capture images and video of wildlife in the region. The results offer a rare insight into the life and daily habits of the creatures.

β€œMany of the more cryptic species are incredibly difficult to study because they are so hard to observe, either because they are rare, shy, nocturnal, or all three (!), but multiple camera traps are left out in the forest for 1-2 months. or more can observe them for us,” He says Robert Wallace, director of the WCS Greater Madidi-Tambopata Landscape Program and co-author of the study. β€œCamera traps catch animals when they least expect it, for example, giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) taking a mud bath, a crested eagle (Morphnus guianensis) drinking and bathing in a puddle, or a cougar or cougar (cougar concolor) taking a nap.”

The data was collected over the course of two decades at 143 field sites in the Amazon Basin. The WCS provided more than 57,000 images to be used in a new study that includes researchers from more than 100 institutions. The recent study was published in the scientific journal Ecology and compiled a collection of more than 120,000 images of nearly 300 species in eight countries in the Amazon region: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. The main objective of the study was to create a database of images of Amazonian wildlife while at the same time documenting habitat loss, fragmentation and the effects of climate change.

Now, with the images provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society, it has become the largest existing database of photographs of Amazonian fauna. And it marks the first time that images from camera traps in different regions have been compiled and standardized on such a large scale. At the end of the study, the researchers had 154,123 images of 317 species, including 185 birds, 119 mammals and 13 reptiles. Of all the mammals photographed, the one most frequently captured was the spotted or lowland paca (paca cuniculus), a type of rodent. In all, the furry little creature was filmed nearly 12,000 times.

The most frequently seen bird was the sharp-billed curassow (Tuberous Pauxi), which appeared on film more than 3,700 times. And the most common reptile was the golden tegu lizard. (Tupinambis teguixin), seen on camera 716 times. But of all the photos included in the study, the focal species for most of the collection was the jaguar (panthera onca), some consider the “symbol of Amazonian wildlife”.

Although developed nearly a century ago, camera traps weren’t used to study wildlife until the early 1990s. But since then, they’ve become an indispensable tool for wildlife conservation and research. They are a simple, non-invasive way to collect information about the environment, and with the advancement of technology they have become more useful. This new study highlights its importance in more ways than one.

“With growing concern about the impact of climate change on wildlife distribution and abundance, this collected dataset provides a baseline with which we can monitor change over time in the future.” He says Wallace. β€œIt is also important to emphasize that analytical techniques are constantly evolving and making this data available is a huge step forward for science and wildlife in the Amazon.”

Scroll down to see more camera-trapped wildlife photos from the study, and watch the video for a glimpse of Amazon wildlife in action.

A recent study used camera traps to capture more than 120,000 images and videos of wildlife in the Amazon Basin.

Wildlife Conservation Society camera traps compile a database on animals in the Amazon rainforest

Andean bear captured in a camera trap. (Photo: WCS Ecuador)

Wildlife Conservation Society camera traps compile a database on animals in the Amazon rainforest

Jaguar caught on camera trap. (Photo: WCS Ecuador)

Wildlife Conservation Society camera traps compile a database on animals in the Amazon rainforest

Giant anteater caught on camera trap. (Photo: WCS Bolivia)

Check out this video to see the fascinating creatures in action.

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h/t: [Treehugger]

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