The effect of attractant lures in camera trapping: a case study of population estimates for the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus)
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- Garrote, G., Gil-Sánchez, J.M., McCain, E.B. et al. Eur J Wildl Res (2012) 58: 881. doi:10.1007/s10344-012-0658-7
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Capture–recapture analysis of camera trap data is a conventional method to estimate the abundance of free-ranging wild felids. Due to notorious low detection rates of felids, it is important to increase the detection probability during sampling. In this study, we report the effectiveness of attractants as a tool for improving the efficiency of camera trap sampling in abundance estimation of Iberian lynx. We developed a grid system of camera stations in which stations with and without attractant lures were spatially alternated across known Iberian lynx habitat. Of the ten individuals identified, five were detected at stations with no attractant (blind sets), and nine, at the lured stations. Thirty-eight percent of blind set station’s independent captures and 10 % of lured station’s independent captures resulted in photographs unsuitable for correct individual identification. The total capture probability at lured stations was higher than that obtained at blind set stations. The estimates obtained with blind set cameras underestimated the number of lynxes compared to lured cameras. In our study, it appears that the use of lures increased the efficiency of trail camera captures and, therefore, the accuracy of capture–recapture analysis. The observed failure to detect known individuals at blind set camera stations may violate capture–recapture assumptions and bias abundance estimates.