Camera Trapping

DeerCamera traps are effective at sampling communities of medium- and large-sized mammals, and provide a relatively inexpensive and non-invasive method for collecting data simultaneously on a range of species.  Working with Dr. Tih-Fen Ting (UIS Department of Environmental Studies), we are using camera traps in The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve to examine the populations of the semi-aquatic mammals (muskrats, mink, beavers, river otters). We are particularly interested in how they respond to changes in the water level of Thompson Lake, as well as how they interact with the local environment (for example: do large populations of muskrats impact surrounding aquatic vegetation?).

In addition to cataloguing the semi-aquatic mammals, we will also inventory the other species which are captured by the camera traps, and thus gain a better understanding of the biodiversity utilizing the Emiquon Preserve. Among these other animals will be potential prey, competitors, and predators of the semi-aquatic mammals—tracking their populations will allow us to better asses the observed changes (if any) in the semi-aquatic mammals.

Camera trapping can generate a large amount of data, with thousands of images potentially being generated each month. To help with classifying these images, we need your help. We have built a project utilizing the platform created by to allow citizen scientists to help us identify the animals captured by our camera traps.candid emiquon screenshot

To get started working on our project:

Images for the 2017-2018 field season are now up and the project is live.

  1. Go to Candid Emiquon. We are still developing aspects of the project. For right now you can only access the project from this link.
  2. Register at zooniverse, click “register” in the upper right of the page. All that is needed is a username, password, and email address (NOTE: if you do not register, each time you come back to the page you will see the same sequence of images, if you want to see new things, you will need to register).
  3. Click on the Project Tutorial. The project tutorial will walk you through the steps and introduce you to the interface
  4. Start identifying animals. It doesn’t take long, ID as many as you like, whenever you like.

We’ll be posting updates and results, both here and on the Candid Emiquon site.

Thanks for your help!