Motion-Activated Cameras Show Biodiversity in Tropical Forests

Motion-Activated Cameras Show Biodiversity in Tropical Forests

A network of motion-activated cameras, which were set up in tropical reserves all over the world, captured million of photos and revealed worldwide biodiversity.

For a new study – published Tuesday (Jan. 19) in the journal PLOS Biology – the researchers used the motion-activated cameras in fifteen tropical forests Asia, in South America, and Africa.

One thousand cameras captured over 2.5 million “selfies” of unsuspecting wildlife – birds and mammals that covered up to 244 animal species. Scientists with the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network looked at all the photos.

The Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network includes researchers from several groups that are working to protect animal diversity in the wild. These include: the Wildlife Conservation Society, Conservation International, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

A lot of mammal and bird populations in the monitored areas showed an increase of about seventeen percent, while twenty-two percent remained stable. Another twenty-two experienced some declines, the researchers found. Thirty-nine percent of the mammal and bird species were not spotted often enough to draw any conclusions with regard to their current populations.

In the three- to eight-year study period, the overall numbers and distribution of species in the protected areas did not decrease, the researchers noted. The study presented a generally positive outlook when it comes to the role of natural reserves in protecting diverse animal communities from human activity.

Jorge Ahumada, co-author of the study and an executive director of the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring Network, said that for the first time, the data was collected with a specialized analytics system that was used in a network of camera traps across a range of protected areas worldwide.

According to study co-author Lydia Beaudrot, who is an assistant professor in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Michigan, animal species found in tropical forests are extremely vulnerable to extinction – which is why researches are needed to evaluate whether protected areas are successful or not.

Officials in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest used the new results to see the impact that park visitors have on the African golden cat (Caracal aurata). Data analysis showed that the wild cats, which are a particularly vulnerable species, would not show up as much in areas with increased visitor traffic.

Tropical forests, along with the species they contain, are part of a global infrastructure that helps support ecosystems beyond the forests, the researchers explained.

Image Source: trbimg