Data from: Distance and size matters: a comparison of six wildlife camera traps and their usefulness for wild birds
Randler, Christoph; Kalb, Nadine (2019), Data from: Distance and size matters: a comparison of six wildlife camera traps and their usefulness for wild birds, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.693b3f4
Camera traps are increasingly used in ecological research. However, tests of their performance are scarce. It is already known from previous work that camera traps frequently fail to capture visits by animals. This can lead to a misinterpretation of ecological results such as density estimates or predation events. While previous work is mainly based on mammals, for birds, no data about if and how camera traps can be successfully used to estimate species diversity or density are available. Hence, the goal of our study was an empirical validation of six different camera traps in the field. We observed a total number of N=4567 events (independent visits of a bird) in 100 different sessions from March 2017 until January 2018, while camera traps were deployed. In addition, N=641 events are based on a comparison of the two close-up camera traps especially designed for birds. These events were all directly observed by the authors. Thus, the cameras can be compared against the human observer. To give an overall assessment and a more generalizable result, we combined the data from the six camera traps and showed that bird size category (effect size = 0.207) and distance (effect size = 0.132) are the most important predictors for a successful trigger. Also, temperature had a small effect, and flock size had an impact with larger flocks being captured more often. The approach of the bird, whether it approached the camera frontally or laterally had no influence. In Table 8 we give some recommendations, based on our results, at which distances camera traps should be placed to get a 25%/50% and 70% capture rate for a given bird size.