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Table 2 Summary of practical issues encountered while using recreational camera traps for research in two case studies and their effect on our experimental process and outcomes

From: Limitations of recreational camera traps for wildlife management and conservation research: A practitioner’s perspective

Problems during use Consequences Case study
Deployment
 Fiddly navigation—small buttons Increasing time needed for fieldwork and increased error rate 1, 2
 Screen is difficult to read in low light or bright sunlight Increasing time needed for fieldwork and increased error rate 1, 2
 Synchronising time consuming and awkward Increased setup and deployment and approximate synchronisation 1, 2
 Keeping track of cameras and images (no meta-data) Increased post-collection processing time, risk of introducing errors and data loss 1, 2
 Losing settings during transit Increasing time needed for fieldwork, error rate, and loss of data if not detected and corrected 1
 Walk-by test requires downloading image on laptop in the field Time consuming and requires access to laptop in the field 1, 2
Operational
 Excessive use of flash and frequent triggering (mostly generating false positives) Swift depletion of batteries; requiring additional field visits to replace batteries; increased costs  
 Internal clocks would commonly reset to factory settings Loss of useable data or loss of data quality 1
 Snow/sleet and ice build-up and condensation on lens Poor quality or no usable imagery 1, 2
 Camera failure due to unknown causes Loss of data 1, 2
 Loss of clock synchrony between cameras, with rate of divergence changing over deployment period Loss of useable data or loss of data quality 1, 2
Data management
 Loss of meaningful date-time stamps Rendered large volumes of data useless (and sampling effort could not be assessed) 1, 2
 Large number of images Problems sharing data. Difficulties cataloguing and analysing 1, 2
 High proportion of false positives Drains battery power, on-board storage, network storage, time for processing, data extraction 1
 Differences in the number of animal detections among cameras monitoring the same carcass Missed data due to questionable effectiveness of camera traps 1, 2
 Highly variable proportion of false positives/negatives between locations, time periods and cameras Questioning camera traps as a research tool. Potential biases, systematic difference between cameras 1, 2
 Lack of tools to either simultaneously log or match external data sources to imagery Labour-intensive to extract and match images from multiple cameras with meteorological data 2