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Habitat fragmentation is an increasingly common problem within the field of ecosystem conservation. Through insularization, habitat loss, and edge effects, habitat fragmentation threatens biodiversity and increases the risk of local extinction. Wildlife corridors mitigate many of these threats by providing connectivity between larger fragments, or “islands.” Conservation efforts are often aimed at protecting these corridors, although it is not always possible to tell which corridors are in greater need of protection based on size and shape alone. Prioritizing corridors for conservation more often relies on direct examination of the species occupying them. Automated camera trap surveys are often used to collect population data, such as density and diversity, in order to assess wildlife corridor effectiveness. However, little standardization exists for examining multiple diverse taxa in a single survey. In this study, I investigated whether baiting camera traps to maximize detection frequency for carnivores and omnivores affects detection frequency for herbivores. I replicated camera trap surveys with and without bait throughout wildlife corridors and forest fragments within the Town of Red Hook, New York to examine how habitat type, bait status, and edge-to-area ratio affected estimations of species richness and relative density across 10 terrestrial vertebrate species. I found that while neither bait status nor habitat type affected observed population density of any species, corridors and non-baited traps reported higher species richness than islands and baited traps. Furthermore, I found that corridors showed higher sensitivity to seasonal changes than islands in terms of detection frequency. These results support that density and species richness are both important metrics for examining corridor health. They also highlight the importance of bait choice and seasonal effects in terms of future study design.
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Hendler, David Martin, "Camera Trap Surveillance of Mammal Communities in Fragmented Forest Habitat: Baited versus Non-Baited Methodologies" (2016). Senior Projects Spring 2016. 1.
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