Data Shows Tropical Mammals on Decline

The world’s largest remote camera trap initiative—monitoring 275 species in 17 protected areas

The world’s largest remote camera trap initiative—monitoring 275 species in 17 protected areas—is getting some big data assistance from Hewlett-Packard (HP). To date, the monitoring program known as the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network has taken over 1.5 million photos of animals in 14 tropical countries, but conservationists have struggled with how to quickly evaluate the flood of data.

“Until now, the right data, the technology and scale have been noticeably missing from our field,” noted Peter Seligmann head of Conservation International (CI), a partner of TEAM. “What once took a team of scientists weeks, months or more to analyze can now be done by a single person in hours.”

The data jump has been provided by HP Earth Insights, a collaboration between the information technology company and CI. HP Earth Insights’ Wildlife Picture Index software provides conservationists near-real-time data on the photos, including species frequency and climatic conditions. To date, the index does not include species-recognition data—that still needs to be done by conservationists—however HP hopes to add that in the future.

Still, the Wildlife Picture Index is providing key new insights. According to the program, 60 species out of the 275 being monitored—or more than one in five—are likely seeing population declines. Such findings are alarming, especially given these are animal populations found in protected areas.
Moreover, the data shows signs that a number of species thought secure are actually facing declines. For example, populations of moonrats (Echinosorex gymnura), masked palm civets (Paguma larvata) and wild boar (Sus scrofa) are falling in Malaysia’s Pasoh Forest Reserve, while the large treeshrew (Tupaia tana) is vanishing from Indonesia’s Bukit Barisan National Park. In Latin America, the greater grison (Galictis vittata) is on the decline in Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park while the northern tamandua (Tamandua mexicana) is having trouble in Volcàn Barva National Park. The data is showing similar stories in Africa: in the Republic of Congo’s Nouabalé-Ndoke National Park the agile mangabey (Cercocebus agilis) is in decline, while the banded mongoose (Mungos mungo) and the four-toed elephant shrew (Petrodromus tetradactylus) are seeing falling populations in Tanzania’s Udzungwa National Park. Notably, all nine of these species are currently considered as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List.

Read the full story here.

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About jensera

Jennifer Harrington is a Toronto-based illustrator, writer and graphic designer. She illustrated the best-selling children’s book series 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' which includes the titles 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' 'The Night Before a Canadian Christmas' and 'Canadian Jingle Bells.' She is also the owner of JSH Graphics, a boutique graphic design agency that specializes in print and web advertising. With her latest project, Eco Books 4 Kids, Jennifer has partnered with illustrator Michael Arnott to create a series of ecologically-themed ebooks for children. Her next book, 'Spirit Bear,' is due for release in the Summer of 2013. Jennifer offers two different school presentations for her 'Moose in a Maple Tree' collection, an illustration demonstration and a Christmas concert series, which can be booked at www.amooseinamapletree.com. She will be taking bookings for school readings of 'Spirit Bear' beginning in October 2013.

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  1. Four new African mammal species discovered | Dear Kitty. Some blog - December 16, 2013

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