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Camera trapping large mammals in yenice forest habitats : a feasibility study for camera trapping large mammals in Yenice Forests, Turkey

Can, Özgün Emre
Widely applicable, quantitative field methods are needed to gather wildlife data for conservation and management initiatives in Turkey. In order to evaluate the use of camera traps in forest habitats of Turkey, we conducted a 5 phase camera trap survey by using 16 passive infrared-triggered cameras with a total sampling effort of 1200 camera trap days in Yaylacık Research Forest, a 50 km2 forest patch of Yenice Forest in Karabük during January-May 2006. The camera trap survey confirmed the presence of grey wolf (Canis lupus), brown bear (Ursus arctos), wildcat (Felis silvestris), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), badger (Meles meles), pine marten (Martes martes), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and wild boar (Sus scrofa) in the study area. The camera trap survey also revealed the presence of jackal (Canis aureus) and brown hare (Lepus europaeus), whose presence were not known by people living and working in the area. Contrary to the local belief, neither camera trapping survey nor ground survey confirmed the presence of lynx (Lynx lynx) in Yaylacık Research Forest. The wolf was observed to be crepuscular and the wildcat showed a diurnal activity pattern. Wildcat seemed to avoid other carnivores spatially and temporally. Simulation studies suggested that camera trap surveys should last 14 days for wolf, 13 days for wildcat, 10 days for pine marten, and 11 days for roe deer, while it is advisable to conduct longer surveys, probably 15-20 days, for wild boar, red fox and brown bears. The estimated population size for wildcat was 9 (SE=2.28227) with 95% confidence interval of 9 to 25 in the study area. A minimum of 6 brown bears were present in the study area. Our study indicated that the local knowledge about the presence of wildlife should be considered by researchers, but it cannot replace scientific surveys conducted by field biologists. This study was the first attempt to assess the presence, relative abundance, activity patterns and diversity of multiple mammal species by the use of camera trapping methodology in Turkey. The results suggest that camera trap surveys have the potential for gathering wildlife data at larger scales in Turkey, where information gap on large mammals is an obstacle for effective management and conservation of mammals.