Kate Fancher and Chris Eljenholm, IRC Program Coordinators, led the project efforts and met with the group of students at the Native Seed Farm, letting them decide how the equipment should be set up. IRC allowed the students to experiment with new tripwire trail cameras that hadn’t been used before on the Landmarks, and were excited to see what they could learn from the students’ project. Trail cameras used in other areas of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks have simpler technology, using temperature and motion to capture photos. Standard trail cameras are great for capturing images of larger mammals, but they often miss reptiles and other smaller wildlife. This especially becomes problematic when attempting to observe ectothermic (or “cold blooded”) animals, whose body temperature is often similar to the surrounding environment.
After four months of observation, the new cameras proved to be efficient and caught images of a variety of small critters that might have been missed by the standard trail cameras. During the four months, the group of students visited the Native Seed Farm every Friday afternoon to check on the cameras, swap out memory cards and switch out any faulty triggers that were found. The experiment allowed several of the Chapman students to gain their first experience with hands-on fieldwork and gave them the opportunity to analyze data from the findings on their own.
With the project now complete, the IRC team was able to observe how well these new tripwire trail cameras work and how best to utilize them in the future. To learn more about other wildlife monitoring projects, visit IRConservancy.org, LetsGoOutside.org or follow the Landmarks on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.