Comparing methods for sampling large- and medium-sized mammals: camera traps and track plots

  • Maria Carolina Lyra-Jorge
  • Giordano Ciocheti
  • Vânia Regina Pivello
  • Sérgio Tadeu Meirelles
Original Paper


Activities involving fauna monitoring are usually limited by the lack of resources; therefore, the choice of a proper and efficient methodology is fundamental to maximize the cost–benefit ratio. Both direct and indirect methods can be used to survey mammals, but the latter are preferred due to the difficulty to come in sight of and/or to capture the individuals, besides being cheaper. We compared the performance of two methods to survey medium and large-sized mammal: track plot recording and camera trapping, and their costs were assessed. At Jataí Ecological Station (S21°31'15"–W47°34'42"-Brazil) we installed ten camera traps along a dirt road directly in front of ten track plots, and monitored them for 10 days. We cleaned the plots, adjusted the cameras, and noted down the recorded species daily. Records taken by both methods showed they sample the local richness in different ways (Wilcoxon, T = 231; p ;; 0.01). The track plot method performed better on registering individuals whereas camera trapping provided records which permitted more accurate species identification. The type of infra-red sensor camera used showed a strong bias towards individual body mass (R2 = 0.70; p = 0.017), and the variable expenses of this method in a 10-day survey were estimated about 2.04 times higher compared to track plot method; however, in a long run camera trapping becomes cheaper than track plot recording. Concluding, track plot recording is good enough for quick surveys under a limited budget, and camera trapping is best for precise species identification and the investigation of species details, performing better for large animals. When used together, these methods can be complementary.


Animal survey method Camera trap Track plot 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Carolina Lyra-Jorge
    • 1
  • Giordano Ciocheti
    • 1
  • Vânia Regina Pivello
    • 1
  • Sérgio Tadeu Meirelles
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de EcologiaUniversidade de São PauloCidade Universitária, São PauloBrazil

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