Over the past decade, camera technology has improved drastically as well as becoming more affordable. This has been a lifeline for projects such as ours, as a few years ago, we relied on infrequent sightings to be reported to the partnership in order to know where the red squirrels were, and that they were surviving. Sightings were infrequent and sometimes unreliable. The only way to check the status of a population was to go in with live capture traps, which both high effort and high disturbance to the squirrels themselves.
Camera traps changed all that. Now, we rely heavily on our camera traps, using them to confirm and monitor red squirrels in a less invasive way. Our traps are triggered by anything that moves in front of it, which can sometimes mean a fern which grows up in front of camera and then waves in the wind, or if the camera is close to the ground, mice. We have nearly 100 camera traps now, and they produce a lot of data.
We have recently started using MammalWeb, a collaborative citizen science web platform set up by Durham University and Durham Wildlife Trust. Users upload their camera trap data, and volunteers can look through it, reporting back what species are in the photos of videos. The system is great and really easy to use.
We’ve only just started using it, so we don’t have many files uploaded yet, but we’re going to be using it much more over this winter. If you’d like to help us, please have a look through the “get started” pages here
and make an account. Then please use this link and click “classify this project”. To help with our project.
We really appreciate anyone who takes the time to go through some images or videos for us, it’s a huge help and an easy way to help the project from the comfort of your sofa, wherever you live!