Optimising camera trap density and position to determine medium and large mammal species richness and occupancy on the Cape Peninsula, South Africa
Largely due to anthropogenic causes, biodiversity and particularly species diversity is changing at an extraordinary rate, with declines in species abundance, community composition and extinction risk being of crucial concern. Monitoring of state variables of biodiversity such as species richness and occupancy are of significant importance in determining the severity of threats placed on species, populations and communities. As a non-invasive monitoring method camera traps are noted as being an effective, accurate and rapid means of compiling species richness estimates of medium to large terrestrial mammals. However, crucial elements of camera trap survey design are rarely empirically addressed, which has questioned the need for a standardised camera trapping protocol. Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) is a protected area that is under serious anthropogenic pressure through urban and peri-urban development. Although it is the last refuge for a number of large mammal species on the Cape Peninsula, current mammalian species richness knowledge within the TMNP are limited. Accurate and current species richness estimates are therefore needed within TMNP and more specifically the Cape of Good Hope (CoGH), which exclusively hosts a number of medium and large mammal species. The aims of this study were to optimise a camera survey protocol for the Peninsula region, with a focus on camera density, placement and survey duration that will enable accurate estimations of medium to large mammal species richness and occupancy.