University of Oulu

Santangeli, A., Pakanen, V.-M., Bridgeford, P., Boorman, M., Kolberg, H., & Sanz-Aguilar, A. (2020). The relative contribution of camera trap technology and citizen science for estimating survival of an endangered African vulture. Biological Conservation, 246, 108593.

The relative contribution of camera trap technology and citizen science for estimating survival of an endangered African vulture

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Author: Santangeli, Andrea1,2; Pakanen, Veli-Matti3,4; Bridgeford, Peter5;
Organizations: 1The Helsinki Lab of Ornithology, Finnish Museum of Natural History, FI-00014, University of Helsinki, Finland
2FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
3Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Box 463, Gothenburg 405 30, Sweden
4Ecology and Genetics research unit, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 3000, FIN-90014 Oulu, Finland
5Vultures Namibia, Walvis Bay, Namibia
6Animal Demography and Ecology Unit, IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), Esporles, Spain
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-06-15


Technological advances such as camera traps, and citizen science, coupled with advanced quantitative approaches, can help fill existing knowledge gaps and aid effective conservation.

We combine citizen and camera trap observations to estimate survival of the Endangered lappet-faced vulture, assess the relative contribution of data from camera traps and citizens, as well as impact of loss of individual marks (wing tags), on survival estimates.

We used data from 762 lappet-faced vultures wing tagged as nestlings during 2006–2017 in western Namibia. Observations of wing tagged individuals were provided by citizens or via camera traps. We formulated a multievent capture-mark-recapture model to estimate survival while accounting for probabilities of resighting by citizens and/or camera traps, recovery of dead individuals, and loss of the wing tag.

Survival was relatively high for juveniles (0.79), and increased with age to 0.95. Citizen observations of live and dead birds were low in number. However, when combined with camera trap resightings of live individuals, citizen observations increased the precision of survival estimates of birds older than one year compared to using data from either sources separately. Wing tag loss was high after 5–6 years of tag age. If neglected, tag loss can result in severe underestimation of survival of the older age classes.

Overall, we show that filling ecological knowledge gaps is possible through the efficient use of data provided by different sources, and by applying state-of the art approaches that minimise potential biases, such as those due to tag loss.

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Series: Biological conservation
ISSN: 0006-3207
ISSN-E: 1873-2917
ISSN-L: 0006-3207
Volume: 246
Article number: 108593
DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108593
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: AS thanks Academy of Finland (grant n. 307909). VMP was funded by Academy of Finland (278759) and the Finnish Cultural Foundation. ASA was supported by a Ramón y Cajal contract (RYC-2017-22796) funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades, the Agencia Estatal de Investigación and the European Social Fund.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 278759
Detailed Information: 278759 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (