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Durham e-Theses
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Monitoring the UK’s terrestrial mammals using camera traps:
from the field to the classroom

MASON, SAMANTHA,SYLVIA (2023) Monitoring the UK’s terrestrial mammals using camera traps:
from the field to the classroom.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

Full text not available from this repository.
Author-imposed embargo until 11 July 2025.


Across the world, biodiversity is being lost at an unprecedented rate, heavily driven by
anthropogenic activities. In order to understand ecosystem changes, and to conserve or
manage species effectively, ecological monitoring on large spatial and temporal scales is
needed. For some taxa, this is relatively straightforward. However, due to the nocturnal and
elusive nature of many species, monitoring of terrestrial mammals can be challenging. In this
thesis, I explore how camera traps and citizen science can be used to improve terrestrial
mammal monitoring efforts in the UK. Firstly, I use the camera trap distance sampling method
to calculate densities of a range of mammal species in North-East England, UK. The density
estimates produced were similar to previously published estimates, and estimates for some
species are amongst the most precise produced to date. Secondly, I evaluate spatial bias in
MammalWeb, a camera trap citizen science dataset, by comparing subsets of data from
MammalWeb to data from my systematic camera trapping survey. Habitat bias in the
MammalWeb dataset impacted the species captured and measures of occupancy and habitat
at a regional-level. I show that by sub-setting analysis to habitat level, the impact of spatial
bias can be reduced; however, expanding spatial coverage of the MammalWeb project would
be valuable in the future. In the second part of the thesis, I focus on a study engaging primary
schools in camera trapping to monitor wildlife in their school grounds. I show that school
pupils benefitted from participating in this project by gaining knowledge of UK mammal
species and increasing their connection to nature. Schools also contributed valuable data to
the MammalWeb project by uploading footage from a range of habitats, including some
currently under-represented in the MammalWeb database. Teachers were very positive
about the project, although some noted challenges to engaging long-term; there were also
differences in longevity of engagement, depending on whether schools took part in a pupil
workshop or teacher training. The findings presented throughout this thesis will help drive
forward how MammalWeb and other projects with similar objectives can use camera trapping
and citizen science approaches to maximise benefits in the areas of both ecological
monitoring and engagement. More generally, my results highlight the potential of citizen
science and camera trapping for improving large-scale mammal monitoring and ultimately,
for tackling the challenges we face in managing widespread biodiversity loss.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Science > Biological and Biomedical Sciences, School of
Thesis Date:2023
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:11 Jul 2023 15:11

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