An oasis in the desert: The potential of water sources as camera trap sites in arid environments for surveying a carnivore guild

Sarah Edwards, Alan Gange, Ingrid Wiesel

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Discussions regarding the importance of accounting for detection probability have long been present in ecological literature. Various studies have demonstrated the influence of survey design on detection probabilities, and whilst the placement of camera traps along roads is a commonly used survey design, it has shown to be biased towards certain species. In arid environments, water sources have the potential to be efficient sites for camera trap placement. We compared the influence of a water source camera trap survey design on the detection probabilities of a guild of seven carnivore species, in comparison detection probabilities from camera traps along roads, on arid, commercial farmland in southern Namibia. Results showed detection probabilities for all species to be higher at water, with the water source design producing shorter latencies of detections and higher naive occupancy estimates for most species. However, for species with unique markings, the water source design produced lower proportions of images suitable for individual identification. As detection probabilities of all species were influenced in a positive manner, we suggest placing camera traps at water sources in arid environments to be an effective survey design. However, for surveys requiring individual identification, placing camera traps along roads may be more suitable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-309
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Early online date25 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


  • camera trap, carnivore, detection probability, multiple species, Namibia, survey design

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