Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Jean Laffite National Historic Park Baratavia Preserve- Craig Hood

I was keen to see how cameras trapping has infiltrated the US national parks system in Louisiana area and organised to meet the Ecologist Julie Witbeck and consultant Craig Hood. Unfortunately Julie had a funding proposal to write which had a higher priority so Craig kindly showed me what is happening with wildlife monitoring in the Preserve. The Preserve is in the Mississippi delta area of New Orleans, Louisiana  and is a unique habitat type caused by sediment dumps along the bayous of the river. This creates linear patches of forest between the mainland, wetlands and water ways. The Preserve is interested in assessing the biodiversity of these interesting patches of forest that is regularly inundated by flood waters – an interesting event that happens somewhat often. This is not surprising when you see the catchment of the Mississippi River.

This Preserve’s program is still in its infancy with regards  to biodiversity camera trapping and Craig is hoping to expand the design and intensity in the next funding period. Presently they have about 20 Cuddebacks and two Reconyx and they are doing presence-absence surveys. They have established  passive sites just in the linear patches of forest along the Mississippi-Bayou wetlands.  These fairly new forests are hosts to Armadillo, Coyote, Bobcat, White tailed deer and raccoons.

Their monitoring program is ongoing and evolving. Craig is still formulating his survey design and he is relatively happy with the Cuddebacks but can see enormous benefits in the Reconyx HC500’s he has deployed. Craig has adopted the standards recommended by Desk Team.

I am presently meeting with Don Swann and colleagues in Saguaro National Park Arizona and learning more about their biodiversity surveys and more about Citizen Science programs and how they work in the US. As some of you may know Don has been using camera traps since 1995 and has a lot of knowledge to share.

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