Emily K. Prince, Robert T. Kelley, and Elizabeth A. McDonald
Department of Biology, Lander University, Greenwood, SC 29649
Corresponding author: Emily K. Prince (email@example.com)
THE ECOLOGICAL QUESTION
How do mammal activity and community composition change with habitat and human disturbance?
FOUR DIMENSIONAL ECOLOGY EDUCATION (4DEE) FRAMEWORK
- Core Ecological Concepts:
- Habitat types
- Behavioral ecology
- Trophic levels
- Ecology Practices:
- Quantitative reasoning and computational thinking
- Data skills—inputting and data-mining /data visualization
- Computer skills: spreadsheets, "R"
- Data analysis and interpretation
- Working collaboratively
- Communicating and applying ecology
- Human-Environment Interactions:
- Human accelerated environmental change
- Anthropogenic impacts, intentional and unintentional
- How humans shape and manage resources/ecosystem/the environment
- Urban ecosystems
- Cross-cutting Themes:
- Spatial & Temporal
WHAT STUDENTS DO
Students will work in pairs or small groups to generate questions that can be answered from the camera trap data set. Questions may focus on how different types of human disturbance affect mammal behavior, niche overlap between species, or predator-prey interactions. Students will use Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to create PivotTables and to display data graphically. Students will analyze their results statistically using a Fisher's exact test to compare proportions of observations between different categories.
Open-ended inquiry, cooperative learning, quantitative learning, problem-based learning
- Student-generated research questions and hypotheses
- PivotTables and bar graphs summarizing data
- Statistical output from Fisher's exact tests and post-hoc tests
- Written interpretation of findings and their relationship to the hypotheses
As written, this exercise requires approximately one 2.75-hour lab period. Most students can complete the exercise, from brainstorming to data interpretation, within the time period.
This exercise is currently used for an upper-level undergraduate Ecology course containing students ranging from sophomores to seniors.
This data file was generated from Lander University's Mammal Ecology Lab (led by McDonald and Prince).
Description of Resource Files:
- CameraData_Faculty.xlsx: This Microsoft Excel file contains the data set and description of camera sites provided for students, as well as several example PivotTables.
- StudentWorksheetSolutions.docx: This Microsoft Word file contains example answers for the worksheet provided to students.
- CameraData_Student.xlsx: This Microsoft Excel file contains a data set with information for about 13,900 images of mammals captured at 6 sites in Upstate South Carolina. It also contains a description of the habitat type and human disturbance level at 26 different camera stations.
- StudentWorksheet.docx: Students fill out this Microsoft Word file as they complete the assignment. Instructors then use this sheet for assessment.
- StudentIntructionsGoogleSheets.docx: (Optional). The student instructions given below rewritten for Google Sheets instead of Microsoft Excel. Instructors can use this file if they prefer Sheets or do not have access to Excel.
We are grateful to the Lander University College of Science and Mathematics as well as for a Lander University President's Grant for funding for the camera trap project. We would also like to thank all of the individuals who provided access to camera trap sites: Kevin Cartee and the Fellowship Camp and Conference Center, Ann Butler and the Greenwood Parks and Trails Foundation, Kenneth Rogers, Fayette Yenny and Lake Greenwood State Park, Lander University, Paul Pridmore and the Greenwood Genetics Center, and Ken Forrester and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Many Lander research students sorted through thousands of images to identify mammal species. We are grateful to Hunter Merrill, Ravon House, Cayla Smith, Haley Sherbert, Zachary Woods, Abigail Wills, Zachrey Swartzentruber, Elisa Howansky, Robert Chandler Russian, Sam Williams, Drew Bruton, Kimberly Sipanela, Hannah Nathe, and Georgia Spann. Finally, we are grateful to Dr. Prince's BIOL 306 classes for testing this activity and providing feedback.
Emily K. Prince, Robert T. Kelley, and Elizabeth A. McDonald. August 2023. Investigating mammal activity patterns using camera trap observations. Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology, Vol. 19: Practice #4. https://tiee.esa.org/vol/v19/issues/data_sets/prince/abstract.html