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Camera trapping with photos and videos: implications for ecology and citizen science

Green, Sian E.; Stephens, Philip A.; Whittingham, Mark J.; Hill, Russell A.

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Sian Green
PGR Student Doctor of Philosophy

Mark J. Whittingham


Camera traps are increasingly used in wildlife monitoring and citizen science to address an array of ecological questions on a wide variety of species. However, despite the ability of modern camera traps to capture high-quality video, the majority of studies collect still images, in part because of concerns with video performance. We conducted a camera trap survey of a forested landscape in the UK, using a grid of paired camera traps, to quantify the impact of using video compared to photos on the outcomes of ecological research and for participation and engagement of citizen scientists. Ecological outputs showed no difference between photo and video datasets, but comparison between expert and citizen science classifications showed citizen scientists were able to classify videos more accurately (average accuracy of 95% for video, 86% for photo). Furthermore, citizen scientists were more likely to volunteer additional information on age (provided for 61% videos, 30% photos) and sex (provided for 63% videos, 45% photos) of animals in video footage. Concerns over slow trigger speeds for videos did not appear to affect our datasets or the inferences gained. When combined with citizen science, video datasets are likely to be of higher quality due to increased classification accuracy. Consequently, we encourage researchers to consider the use of video for future camera trapping projects.


Green, S. E., Stephens, P. A., Whittingham, M. J., & Hill, R. A. (2023). Camera trapping with photos and videos: implications for ecology and citizen science. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation, 9(2), 268-283.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 10, 2022
Online Publication Date Sep 24, 2022
Publication Date 2023-04
Deposit Date Sep 10, 2022
Publicly Available Date May 23, 2023
Journal Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation
Publisher Wiley Open Access
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 2
Pages 268-283


Published Journal Article (1.7 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
© 2022 The Authors. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Zoological Society of London.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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