The WildCAM Website Launch
The WildCAM (Wildlife Cameras for Adaptive Management) steering committee is delighted to announce the launch of the WildCAM website!
WildCAM was born when groups came together in the fall of 2018 at the University of British Columbia to discuss the state of camera trap research in BC and explore the potential for a province-wide camera trap network. Hosted by Dr. Cole Burton, this broad group included academics; biologists and managers from federal, provincial, and municipal governments; First Nations biologists; and researchers from non-governmental organizations. Part of the impetus for the meeting was the explosion of interest in, and use of, remote cameras.
The meeting made clear the breadth of camera trap research in the province, while also underscoring how individual projects can benefit from greater collaboration and coordination. Wildlife don't know administrative, organizational, and project boundaries, and to better understand them we need to work in new more collaborative ways. Coordinated camera trap sampling is particularly important for increasing detection data for rare and elusive species and adding breadth to single-species studies by generating data for entire mammal communities. In addition, coordinated sampling can advance our understanding of the underlying drivers of population and community changes by sampling across key gradients and providing data on aspects such as species interactions, behaviour, body condition, age structure, and vegetation phenology. In turn, these data can improve the monitoring of terrestrial vertebrate diversity, support effective wildlife and landscape management, and help advance research of large-scale ecological processes.
In 2019 a steering committee was established to pursue WildCAM's mission: develop a remote camera network to improve knowledge and public engagement in support of effective wildlife management and conservation in BC, Western Canada, and beyond. The Steering Committee outlined three initial objectives, which the WildCAM team has pursued under their guidance.
The first objective was to create a community of practice. We surveyed camera trap practitioners across BC and its environs to establish who is doing what, where. We then built this website, featuring a directory of camera trap practitioners and a map showcasing current and past camera trap surveys. We see this site and its features as instrumental in sharing member information, supporting and stimulating collaborations, and identifying gaps in sampling coverage. Moving forward, we hope to continue to grow both the member directory and the projects repository to better represent camera trap researchers and their projects in western Canada. Please join and let us know if there are projects and researchers that should be added.
The second objective was to create an annotated bibliography and literature synthesis of peer-reviewed camera trap best practices papers over the past decade, with results from papers on study design and data management. This, and other resources that cover many aspects of camera trapping are in the resource library on this site. Along with the expertise of our steering committee, we are using these resources to develop WildCAM’s own standardized camera trap survey protocols. We see WildCAM as a hub for the network’s membership to: connect with each other; share camera trap images and knowledge for public engagement; get resources you need; compare notes and discuss best practices and other topics (discussion forum coming soon); promote the deployment of camera traps in partnership with diverse stakeholders; and guide WildCAM's future direction.
We are also pursuing the following additional objectives:
- Develop a coordinated sampling framework to address large-scale management questions and identify areas where further methodological research is needed.
- Assess existing tools and develop new ones to facilitate effective, standardized data management and sharing.
- Develop partnerships with diverse stakeholders and engage in public education about wildlife ecology and conservation via camera-trap images.
We are currently looking to hire a science coordinator for the network to help achieve these objectives (see the position advertisement under Updates).
We are confident that, with your active participation and support, WildCAM will grow well beyond the efforts of this past year, leading the way for new knowledge, improved wildlife management, and healthier and more abundant wildlife populations in Western Canada and beyond!