VARIABLE FACTORS AFFECTING CAMERA TRAPPING FOR TWO GROUND SQUIRREL SPECIES IN THE WEST MOJAVE DESERT
|Ed LaRue; Circle Mountain Biological Consultants, Inc.; email@example.com;|
Between 2017 and 2021, the author monitored motion surveillance cameras at three sites in the West Mojave Desert intended to census the occurrence of the State-listed Mohave ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus mohavensis) (MGS). MGS, in addition to white-tailed antelope ground squirrel (Ammospermophilus leucurus) (AGS), are the focal squirrel species of this study. There are numerous factors affecting the function of motion cameras and the subsequent review and analyses of photographs. Variable factors considered in this presentation include 1. Hardware, 2. Bait Presentation, 3. Animal Identifications, 4. Weather Conditions, and 5. Collecting/Reporting Results. Camera quality may affect results, but even two cameras of the same make vary. Bait presentations include blocks, PVC tubes, and screened sandwich containers, each with pros and cons. Between the two squirrel species within the study area, there are difficulties discerning individuals of the species. Early indications suggest that winter precipitation, which affects annual plant germination at the time of studies, likely affect detectability and abundance of squirrel images. As camera trapping for these species is relatively new, since 2011, variable approaches are being implemented until acceptable methods are identified.