• Allan F. O’Connell
  • James D. Nichols
  • K. Ullas Karanth


Cameras (and in a more general sense photography) are a staple of modern society, and from an early age we have learned that these devices can document every aspect of our lives. From a societal perspective, the use of cameras in science has a long history in fields such as astronomy and medicine; amongst varied opinions, photography has been suggested as a demystifying force in nature (Marien 2002). It should come as no surprise then that advances in photography and cameras would inevitably find their way into the conservation arena, and over time, become a ­preferred tool for sampling animal populations. In recent years, the use of camera traps in the study of wild animals has undeniably improved our understanding of their ecological relationships and more recently, population dynamics. There are now literally hundreds of studies and surveys being conducted that involve camera traps, from urban parks to the most remote jungles. A search of the published literature in the Web of Science database recently pulled up 180 citations for “camera traps” over the past 5 years. In addition, the grey literature on this topic probably includes many more hundreds of contributions, especially when one considers the global interest in documenting biodiversity. Camera traps have been used to sample species ranging from the very common [e.g., white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus, raccoons Procyon lotor] to species that are rare, elusive, and often enigmatic [e.g., snow leopards Uncia uncia].


Nest Predation Camera Trap Estimate Species Richness Snow Leopard Camera Trapping 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Anderson, D. R. 2001. The need to get the basics right in wildlife field studies. Wildlife Society Bulletin 29:1294–1297Google Scholar
  2. Bailey, L. L., J. E. Hines, J. D. Nichols, and D. I. MacKenzie. 2007. Sampling design trade-offs in occupancy studies with imperfect detection: examples and software. Ecological Applications 17:281–290PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Elphick, C. S. 2008. How you count counts: the importance of research methods in applied ecology. Journal of Applied Ecology 145:1313–1320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Gilbert, A. T., A. F. O’Connell, Jr., E. M. Annand, N. W. Talancy, J. R. Sauer, and J. D. Nichols. 2008. An inventory of terrestrial mammals at National Parks in the Northeast Temperate Network and Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia. Scientific Investigations Report 2007–5245. 158 ppGoogle Scholar
  5. Hines, J. E., T. Boulinier, J. D. Nichols, J. R. Sauer, and K. H. Pollock. 1999. COMDYN: software to study the dynamics of animal communities using a capture–recapture approach. Bird Study 46(suppl.):S209–217Google Scholar
  6. Karanth, K. U. and J. D. Nichols. 1998. Estimation of tiger densities in India using photographic captures and recaptures. Ecology 79:2852–2862CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Karanth, K. U., J. D. Nichols, N. S. Kumar, and J. E. Hines. 2006. Assessing tiger population dynamics using photographic capture recapture sampling. Ecology 87:2925–2937PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Lancia, R. A., J. D. Nichols, and K. H. Pollock. 1994. Estimating the number of animals in wildlife populations. Pages 215–253 in T. Bookhout, editor. Research and management techniques for wildlife and habitats. The Wildlife Society, Bethesda, MDGoogle Scholar
  9. Lebreton, J. D., K. P. Burnham, J. Clobert, and D. R. Anderson. 1992. Modeling survival and testing biological hypotheses using marked animals: a unified approach with case studies. Ecological Monographs 62:1–118Google Scholar
  10. Long, R. A., P. MacKay, W. J. Zielinski, and J. C. Ray, editors. 2008. Noninvasive survey methods for carnivores. Island Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  11. Marien, M. W. 2002. Photography: a cultural perspective. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  12. Nichols, J. D. and B. K. Williams. 2006. Monitoring for conservation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 21:668–673PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. O’Connell, A. F. Jr., N. W. Talancy, L. L. Bailey, J. R. Sauer, R. Cook, and A. T. Gilbert. 2006. Estimating site occupancy and detection probability parameters for mammals in a coastal ecosystem. Journal of Wildlife Management 70:1625–1633CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Pollock, K. H. 1982. A capture–recapture design robust to unequal probability of capture. Journal of Wildlife Management 46:757–760CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Pollock, K. H., J. D. Nichols, T. R. Simon, G. L. Farnsworth, L. L. Bailey, and J. R. Sauer. 2002. Large scale wildlife monitoring studies: statistical methods for design and analysis. Envirometrics 13:105–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Romesburg, H. C. 1981. Wildlife science: gaining reliable knowledge. Journal of Wildlife Management 45:293–313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Royle, J. A., J. D. Nichols, K. U. Karanth, and A. Gopalaswamy. 2009. A hierarchical model for estimating density in camera-trap studies. Journal of Applied Ecology 46:118–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Thompson, W. L., G. C. White, and C. Gowan. 1998. Monitoring vertebrate populations. Academic, San Diego, CAGoogle Scholar
  19. Yoccoz, N. G., J. D. Nichols, and T. Boulinier. 2001. Monitoring of biological diversity in space and time. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 16:446–453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Zielinski, W. J., R. L. Truex, C. V. Ogan, and K. Busse. 1997. Detection surveys for fishers and American martens in California, 1989–1994: summary and interpretations. Pages 372–392 in G. Proulx, H. N. Bryant, and P. M. Woodard, editors. Martes: taxonomy, ecology, techniques, and management. Provincial Museum of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, CanadaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allan F. O’Connell
    • 1
  • James D. Nichols
    • 2
  • K. Ullas Karanth
    • 3
  1. 1.U.S. Geological SurveyPatuxent Wildlife Research CenterBeltsvilleUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological SurveyPatuxent Wildlife Research CenterLaurelUSA
  3. 3.Wildlife Conservation Society – India ProgramCentre for Wildlife StudiesBangaloreIndia

Personalised recommendations