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Data from: Zooming in on mechanistic predator-prey ecology: integrating camera traps with experimental methods to reveal the drivers of ecological interactions

Citation

Smith, Justine et al. (2020), Data from: Zooming in on mechanistic predator-prey ecology: integrating camera traps with experimental methods to reveal the drivers of ecological interactions, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.25338/B8802Q

Abstract

1. Camera trap technology has galvanized the study of predator-prey ecology in wild animal communities by expanding the scale and diversity of predator-prey interactions that can be analyzed. While observational data from systematic camera arrays have informed inferences on the spatiotemporal outcomes of predator-prey interactions, the capacity for observational studies to identify mechanistic drivers of species interactions is limited. 2. Experimental study designs that utilize camera traps uniquely allow for testing hypothesized mechanisms that drive predator and prey behavior, incorporating environmental realism not possible in the lab while benefiting from the distinct capacity of camera traps to generate large data sets from multiple species with minimal observer interference. However, such pairings of camera traps with experimental methods remain underutilized. 3. We review recent advances in the experimental application of camera traps to investigate fundamental mechanisms underlying predator-prey ecology and present a conceptual guide for designing experimental camera trap studies. 4. Only 9% of camera trap studies on predator-prey ecology in our review mention experimental methods, but the application of experimental approaches is increasing. To illustrate the utility of camera trap-based experiments using a case study, we propose a study design that integrates observational and experimental techniques to test a perennial question in predator-prey ecology: how prey balance foraging and safety, as formalized by the risk allocation hypothesis. We discuss applications of camera trap-based experiments to evaluate the diversity of anthropogenic influences on wildlife communities globally. Finally, we review challenges to conducting experimental camera trap studies. 5. Experimental camera trap studies have already begun to play an important role in understanding the predator-prey ecology of free-living animals, and such methods will become increasingly critical to quantifying drivers of community interactions in a rapidly changing world. We recommend increased application of experimental methods in the study of predator and prey responses to humans, synanthropic and invasive species, and other anthropogenic disturbances.

Methods

An increasing number of predator-prey studies are using camera traps in their methodological approach, but few do so with an experimental study design. This dataset examines evidence for observational and experimental approaches in predator-prey studies which include camera trap data. For studies with an experimental component, this dataset also includes details about the research focus, predator and prey species, and experimental treatment used. 

Search methodology

To determine the temporal trends and spatial distribution of the use of experimental camera trap methods in predator-prey ecology, we used the following search terms:

"camera trap" OR "remote camera" OR "trail camera" OR "camera traps" OR "remote cameras" OR "trail cameras"

AND

predator* OR prey

AND

experiment*

To determine the temporal trends and spatial distribution of the use of observational camera trap methods in predator-prey ecology, we used the following search terms:

"camera trap" OR "remote camera" OR "trail camera" OR "camera traps" OR "remote cameras" OR "trail cameras"

AND

predator* OR prey

AND

abundance OR activity OR density OR occupancy

NOT

experiment*

Paper validation

Once all papers had been assembled, each was reviewed to examine if it contained a study of predator-prey interactions that was tested using camera traps. Only papers that met these criteria remained in the review. The papers in the experimental search were also checked to examine if the experiment used directly included camera trap data. The papers in the observational search were scored for their use of camera traps to measure abundance, activity, density, occupancy, or other observation approach to explicitly study an aspect of predator-prey interactions. We recorded the location where each study was conducted to map geographic trends in Fig. 1.