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Effectiveness of thermal cameras compared to spotlights for counts of arid zone mammals across a range of ambient temperatures


McGregor, H and Moseby, K and Johnson, CN and Legge, S, Effectiveness of thermal cameras compared to spotlights for counts of arid zone mammals across a range of ambient temperatures, Australian Mammalogy pp. 1-8. ISSN 0310-0049 (2021) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright Australian Mammal Society 2021

DOI: doi:10.1071/AM20040


Effective monitoring of mammal species is critical to their management. Thermal cameras may enable more accurate detection of nocturnal mammals than visual observation with the aid of spotlights. We aimed to measure improvements in detection provided by thermal cameras, and to determine how these improvements depended on ambient temperatures and mammal species. We monitored small to medium sized mammals in central Australia, including small rodents, bettongs, bilbies, European rabbits, and feral cats. We conducted 20 vehicle-based camera transects using both a spotlight and thermal camera under ambient temperatures ranging from 10C to 35C. Thermal cameras resulted in more detections of small rodents and medium sized mammals. There was no increased benefit for feral cats, likely due to their prominent eyeshine. We found a strong relationship between increased detections using thermal cameras and environmental temperature: thermal cameras detected 30% more animals than conventional spotlighting at approximately 15C, but produced few additional detections above 30C. Spotlighting may be more versatile as it can be used in a greater range of ambient temperatures, but thermal cameras are more accurate than visual surveys at low temperatures, and can be used to benchmark spotlight surveys.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:arid zone mammals, conservation, detectability, distance sampling, monitoring, spotlighting, thermal imagery, cat, thermal camera
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Terrestrial ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in terrestrial environments
UTAS Author:McGregor, H (Dr Hugh McGregor)
UTAS Author:Johnson, CN (Professor Christopher Johnson)
ID Code:145697
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2021-08-02
Last Modified:2021-09-28

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