Training course: "An evidence-based approach to camera-trapping"

Start date and time

Saturday 16 September 2017


RZSS Edinburgh Zoo 134 Corstorphine Rd, Edinburgh EH12 6TS

This intermediate level event explores key considerations when using cam trapping to assist with assessment of resting sites and activity surveys of mammals. The training will focus on critical aspects of survey design and methodology, with reference to recent research studies and practical sessions at the venue.

European Protected Species licenses require that there is an assessment of any resting sites which will be affected by development activities. Otters' resting sites are particularly difficult to assess; using field evidence alone allows little more than guess work. Cam traps are increasingly used to assist in this task, but evidence-based guidelines are yet to be produced, so this course shares information to guide participants when undertaking cam trap surveys.

This course, jointly delivered by Patrick White (Edinburgh Napier University) and Mel Findlay, will detail what should be considered when cam trapping mammals and their dens to assess activity. Camera-trap methodology will be the main focus using Eurasian otter, Asian short-clawed otter, Eurasian beaver and Eurasian badger to illustrate species-based differences using data and footage from CCTV controlled trials with captive and wild animals.

Otters will be used as the main example as they present the greatest challenge in terms of their unpredictable denning habits and their reduced detectability by motion detectors when wet. Royal Zoological Society of Scotland staff will share their experience with other mammals including Scottish Wildcat.

The course will discuss critical aspects of survey design such as minimum trapping period, distance between camtrap and target and distance of target from water and cam trap settings and will be supported by trial data and many long-term wild otter holt site studies. Participants should have a good working knowledge of otter ecology, preferably from attending an Otter Ecology and Survey CIEEM course. The course will mainly be in the classroom with practical work sessions in the zoo grounds.