NEW YORK (August 30, 2010) With a simple click of the camera, scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and Zoological Society of London have developed a new way to accurately monitor long-term trends in rare and vanishing species over large landscapes.
Called the "Wildlife Picture Index," (WPI) the methodology collects images from remote "camera traps," which automatically photograph anything that lopes, waddles, or slinks past. These virtual photo albums sometimes containing thousands of photos of dozens of species are then run through a statistical analysis to produce metrics for diversity and distribution of a broad range of wildlife.
Though camera traps are already used by conservationists to track individual species or to survey wildlife in small protected areas, this study marks the first time they have been used to scientifically measure long-term trends of multiple species on a landscape-wide scale.
The study appears in the August, 2010 issue of the journal Animal Conservation. Authors include: Tim O'Brien and Linda Krueger of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Jonathan Baille of the Zoological Society of London, and Melissa Cuke of the University of British Columbia.
The WPI was designed to meet the future needs of the Convention of Biological Diversity, (CBD) a treaty signed by 188 countries to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss.
"The Wildlife Picture Index is an effective tool in monitoring trends in wildlife diversity that previously could only be roughly estimated," said the study's lead author, Tim O'Brien of the Wildlife Conservation Society. "This new methodology will help conservationists determine where to focus their efforts to help stem the tide of biodiversity loss over broad landscapes."
The authors used the WPI to track changes in wildlife diversity over a 10-year period in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in southwest Sumatra, Indonesia. The 1,377 square-m
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Wildlife Conservation Society