Australian Mammalogy Australian Mammalogy Society
Journal of the Australian Mammal Society
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Identification of threatened rodent species using infrared and white-flash camera traps

Phoebe A. Burns A B D , Marissa L. Parrott C , Kevin C. Rowe B and Benjamin L. Phillips A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, 3010.

B Sciences Department, Museum Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne, Victoria, 3001.

C Wildlife and Conservation Science, Zoos Victoria, Elliott Ave, Parkville, Victoria, 3010.

D Corresponding author. Email: pburns@museum.vic.gov.au

Australian Mammalogy - https://doi.org/10.1071/AM17016
Submitted: 18 March 2017  Accepted: 24 July 2017   Published online: 21 August 2017

Abstract

Camera trapping has evolved into an efficient technique for gathering presence/absence data for many species; however, smaller mammals such as rodents are often difficult to identify in images. Identification is inhibited by co-occurrence with similar-sized small mammal species and by camera set-ups that do not provide adequate image quality. Here we describe survey procedures for identification of two small, threatened rodent species – smoky mouse (Pseudomys fumeus) and New Holland mouse (P. novaehollandiae) – using white-flash and infrared camera traps. We tested whether observers could accurately identify each species and whether experience with small mammals influenced accuracy. Pseudomys fumeus was ~20 times less likely to be misidentified on white-flash images than infrared, and observer experience affected accuracy only for infrared images, where it accounted for all observer variance. Misidentifications of P. novaehollandiae were more common across both flash types: false positives (>0.21) were more common than false negatives (<0.09), and experience accounted for only 31% of variance in observer accuracy. For this species, accurate identification appears to be, in part, an innate skill. Nonetheless, using an appropriate setup, camera trapping clearly has potential to provide broad-scale occurrence data for these and other small mammal species.

Additional keywords: Muridae, Pseudomys fumeus, P. novaehollandiae, sensitivity, small mammals, specificity.


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