Investigating animal activity patterns and temporal niche partitioning using cameratrap data: challenges and opportunities




Frey, Sandra
Fisher, Jason T.
Burton, A. Cole
Volpe, John P.

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Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation


Time‐stamped camera data are increasingly used to study temporal patterns in species and community ecology, including species’ activity patterns and niche partitioning. Given the importance of niche partitioning for facilitating coexistence between sympatric species, understanding how emerging environmental stressors – climate and landscape change, biodiversity loss and concomitant changes to community composition – affect temporal niche partitioning is of immediate importance for advancing ecological theory and informing management decisions. A large variety of analytical approaches have been applied to camera‐trap data to ask key questions about species activity patterns and temporal overlap among heterospecifics. Despite the many advances for describing and quantifying these temporal patterns, few studies have explicitly tested how interacting biotic and abiotic variables influence species’ activity and capacity to segregate along the temporal niche axis. To address this gap, we suggest coordinated distributed experiments to capture sufficient camera‐trap data across a range of anthropogenic stressors and community compositions. This will facilitate a standardized approach to assessing the impacts of multiple variables on species’ behaviours and interactions. Ultimately, further integration of spatial and temporal analyses of camera‐trap data is critical for improving our understanding of how anthropogenic activities and landscape changes are altering competitive interactions and the dynamics of animal communities.



activity patterns, camera trapping, competition, niche partitioning, species coexistence, species interactions


Frey, S.; Fisher, J. T.; Burton, A. C.; & Volpe, J. P. (2017). Investigating animal activity patterns and temporal niche partitioning using camera-trap data: Challenges and opportunities. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation, 3(3), 123-132.