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Camera traps Red deer exhibit spatial and temporal responses to hiking activity


Marion, Solene (2021), Camera traps Red deer exhibit spatial and temporal responses to hiking activity, Dryad, Dataset,


Outdoor recreation has the potential to impact the spatial and temporal distribution of animals. We explore interactions between red deer (Cervus elaphus) and hikers along a popular hiking path in the Scottish Highlands. We placed camera traps in transects at different distances (25, 75 and 150 metres) from the path to study whether distance from hiker activity influences the number of deer detected. We compared this with the detection of red deer in an additional, spatially isolated area (one km away from any other transects and the hiking path). We collected count data on hikers at the start of the path and explored hourly (red deer detection during the day), daily, diurnal (day vs night), and monthly spatial distributions of red deer. Using Generalized Linear Mixed Models with forward model selection, we found that the distribution of deer changed with the hiking activity. We found that fewer red deer were detected during busy hourly hiking periods. We found that during the day, more red deer were detected at 150m than at 25m. Moreover, during the day, red deer were detected at a greater rate in the isolated area than around the transects close to the path and more likely to be found close to the path at night. This suggests that avoidance of hikers by red deer, in this study area, takes place over distances greater than 75m and that red deer are displaced into less disturbed areas when the hiking path is busy. Our results suggest that the impact of hikers is short-term, as deer return to the disturbed areas during the night.


See in the corresponding paper, Marion et al 2021:

"Data collection occurred over three periods: from the beginning of August to mid-November 2017, from mid-June to the end of October 2018 and from the end of May to end of October 2019, for a total of 7077 camera trap survey effort days. [...] The spatiotemporal distribution of red deer along the hiking path was quantified using transects of three camera traps at distances of 25, 75 and 150 m on one side of the hiking path (the transects were perpendicular to the path). [...]

The transects were set up in three different points along the hiking path: East (TE), West (TW) and North (TN) in all three years (2017–2018–2019). A separate transect (in 2019 only) was set up in an isolated area of the landscape with no path nearby (the closest distance to the hiking path was 1 km). [...]"

Moreover, the dataset also includes information about the hiking activity in the study area, per hour and per day. These data were collected using a laser counter at the entrance of the hiking path.

We processed these data in the software R.

Usage Notes

See the ReadMe file.