Spying on Mammals: Camera trapping in Ecuador

Hey Raxa readers, I thought I’d  share with you the process of putting up a camera trap in a tree, and also a couple of videos that I recorded with the camera trap. What adorable rodent did I get a great video of in a shade coffee plot? Take a look and find out!

Something that I learned very quickly after visiting my first shade coffee plots this past January is that shade coffee will never be able to replicate natural cloud forests in Ecuador. They may be infinitely better for wildlife than fields of sugarcane or endless pasture, but they are not a substitute for the real thing. Two things that agroforestry can do, however, is 1) act as a buffer for forest reserves, and 2) contribute to biological corridors. I’d like to talk a little more about the second one here.

Studies have shown that many animals, even some birds, are hesitant or incapable of crossing deforested areas, especially arboreal species. When forests patches are cut off by deforestation, even wildlife in the most pristine habitats faces serious threats from genetic isolation and inbreeding. One of the future conservation hopes in Intag is to develop biological corridors (forested habitat connecting major reserves) that wildlife use to cross between the established reserves. Could shade coffee serve as a way to connect reserves while generating income for people? I don’t know. Could camera traps help us find out? Yup.

Part of my plan for this summer is to set up camera traps in shade coffee plots to see which species of mammals or large birds, if any, are using coffee plots. Camera traps are weatherproof cameras that take photos or videos when triggered by movement in front of them. They are an extremely useful tool for researching elusive species hardly ever seen, such as most mammals. By setting up camera traps, I’m hoping to provide information on what kinds of species are willing to leave forest and venture in to coffee plots and if the coffee plots are providing those animals with any kind of support, such as fruit. It’s not an elaborate study, but it’s something that’s never been done here to my knowledge.

9 thoughts on “Spying on Mammals: Camera trapping in Ecuador

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