WCS 3-Sentence Science

Diving Deep with Camera Traps

Wildlife Conservation Society
2 min readJan 2, 2020

December 13, 2019


Each year, Wildlife Conservation Society scientists publish more than 300 peer-reviewed studies and papers. “WCS 3-Sentence Science” is a regular tip-sheet — in bite sized helpings — of some of this published work.

Here we present work by WCS’s Tim O’Brien and Julia Salvador on wild species’ body mass in relation to their proximity to human settlement.

  1. Using standardized camera trapping data and a new analytical method, scientists found that trophic guilds (a group of species that exploit the same resources) and body mass varies across 16 protected areas in tropical forests and three continents in relation to the extent of protected habitat and human pressures.
  2. Insectivores were found to be sensitive to the size of protected habitat and surrounding human population density, while body mass distribution varied little among communities both in terms of central tendency and spread, yet community average body mass declined with proximity to human settlements.
  3. Results suggest that broadly similar habitats and selective pressures shaped communities with similar trophic strategies and responses to drivers of change — similarities that provide a foundation for assessing assemblages under human-caused threats and sharing conservation measures.

Study and Journal: “A standardized assessment of forest mammal communities reveals consistent functional composition and vulnerability across the tropics” from Ecography
WCS Co-Author(s): Tim O’Brien, Senior Scientist, Measures; Julia Salvador, WCS Ecuador Program

For more information, contact: Stephen Sautner, 718–220–3682, ssautner@wcs.org.

Wildlife Conservation Society

WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.