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Abstract

Obtaining basic ecological information on occurrence and activity levels in cryptic and elusive species is often difficult. Camera trapping provides a relatively inexpensive opportunity to acquire such data. We used infrared-triggered cameras to assess trap success and activity levels of several species across four consecutive seasons, including: Ursus americanus (black bear), Lynx rufus (bobcat), Canis latrans (coyote), Vulpes vulpes (red fox), Urocyon cinereoargenteus (gray fox), Procyon lotor (raccoon), Odocoileus virginianus (white-tailed deer), Didelphis virginiana (opossum), Sciurus carolinensis (gray squirrel), and Meleagris gallopavo (wild turkey). With a total of 396 trap nights (TN) at one station over the span of four consecutive seasons, overall trap success rate was 86.87 captures per 100 TN. Trap success was highest in wild turkeys (31.57/100 TN), followed by raccoons (15.66/100 TN), gray squirrels (10.86/100 TN), gray foxes (8.59/100 TN), white-tailed deer (8.08/100 TN), opossums (5.56/100 TN), coyotes (1.52/100 TN), red foxes (1.26/100 TN), and bobcats (0.76/100 TN). Overall trap success significantly varied across all target species combined (Kruskal Wallis Chi-Square = 349, d.f. = 10, p < 0.0001). However, trap success did not vary across all seasons for all target species combined (Kruskal Wallis Chi-Square = 0.99, d.f. = 3, p = 0.78). This study is the first to use camera trapping to examine species presence and activity levels in a longitudinal manner for cryptic and elusive species of southwest Virginia.

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