Camera traps capture the largest photographic study of wildlife in the Amazon

A new study that represents the largest image database ever made consists of more than 120,000 images taken in eight countries in the Amazon region. It highlights an amazing array of wildlife in the area.

While the Amazon has the highest biodiversity on Earth, information on the region’s fauna is still incomplete and scattered across a mixture of published papers (both peer-reviewed literature and “gray” literature) as well as raw, unpublished data. The study authors set out to address that. They organized and consolidated records of camera traps from the different Amazon regions to compile the most comprehensive data set of mammal, bird, and reptile species ever collected in the region.

This is the first time that images from camera traps across different regions of the Amazon have been aggregated and consolidated on such a large scale.

WCS Camera Trap
Tayasu Beccari (White-lipped Beef)
WCS Camera Trap
Tapirus terrestris (South American tapir)
WCS Camera Trap
Panthera Onca (Jaguar)
WCS Camera Trap
Mazama rufina (little red bucket deer)
WCS Camera Trap
Panthera Onca (Jaguar)
WCS Camera Trap
Tremarctos Ornatus (Andean bear)

The full data set includes 154,123 records for 317 species (185 birds, 119 mammals, and 13 reptiles) collected from surveys from the Amazonian part of eight countries (Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela).

“The most recorded species for each taxon are: Mammals – Cuniculus paca (11907 records); Birds – Pauxi tuberosa (3713 records); and Reptiles – Tupinambis teguixin (716 records),” the study, published in ESA . ​​magazinesnotes.

WCS Camera Trap
Myrmecophaga tridactyla (giant anteater)
WCS Camera Trap
Puma Concolor (Puma)
WCS Camera Trap
Dasypus beniensis (larger long-nosed armadillo)

Of those 120,000 images, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) submitted more than 57,000 species showing 289 species captured from 2001 through 2020 from 143 field sites.

“The purpose of the study is to build a database of images of Amazonian wildlife, documenting habitat loss, fragmentation, and climate change,” WCS explain.

WCS Camera Trap
Morphnus Guianensis (Crowned Eagle)
WCS Camera Trap
Puma Concolor (Puma)
WCS Camera Trap
Pteroglossus beauharnaesii (curl crested aracari)
WCS Camera Trap
Panthera Onca (Jaguar)

The Amazon Basin covers approximately 3.2 million square miles (8.5 million square kilometers) in Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela.

The WCS scholars were proud to collaborate with a diverse group of scholars and organizations on this important study. Tens of thousands of images provided by the WCS will serve as important data points to show where wildlife occurs and the amazing diversity of species found in the Amazon,” Robert Wallace, director of WCS’s Madidi Tambopata Great Landscape Program, and a co-author of the study, says.

WCS Camera Traps

Camera traps have proven important to wildlife research because of the non-invasive way they can document animals in an area.

“For individually identifiable species, such as jaguars or ocelots, we can even calculate population density and then estimate how many are in a given area,” Wallace says. tree hugger.

WCS Camera Traps

WCS Camera Traps

“Many of the more cryptic species are very difficult to study because they are difficult to observe, either because they are rare, timid, nocturnal, or all three, but multiple camera traps left in the woods for one to two months or more can monitor them for us.”

WCS Camera Traps

WCS Camera Traps

“With the advent of digital cameras, we can now monitor camera traps when we visit to check on batteries and SD cards periodically in the woods, but before that we had to wait to develop hundreds of rolls of film sometimes before we knew what we had filmed!” Wallace says. “Our camera traps are precious and sometimes we have to save them from flash flood events.”

WCS Camera Traps

WCS Camera Traps

Wallace says that as concerns about climate change grow, these images will serve as a baseline that he and other scientists can use as a way to monitor change over time in the future.

“It is also important to emphasize that analytical techniques are constantly evolving, and making this data available is a huge step forward for science and wildlife in the Amazon region,” he says.


Image credits: Images provided by WCS.