Date of this Version
Wojcik, N. 2023. Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Red Foxes and Coyotes through Camera Traps and Citizen Science. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Wildlife may change their temporal activity patterns or spatial distribution in response to human activity in developed landscapes. Citizen science and camera trap approaches have both been used to study wildlife in urban areas, though both methods have their strengths and weaknesses. I studied the temporal activity and spatial occurrence of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and coyotes (Canis latrans) in Lincoln, Nebraska to test ecological and methodological hypotheses. Specifically, I compared camera trap detections of red foxes and coyotes to observations of red foxes made by residents of Lincoln. Using these two data streams, I evaluated temporal activity patterns and spatial distribution of the two species in urban and rural areas in greater Lincoln. For the temporal analyses, I made quantitative comparisons using data from camera trapping and observations by citizens. For the spatial analyses, I made visual and descriptive comparisons of the patterns evident from the two data sources. I found that the temporal activity patterns of red foxes reported by citizen scientists and camera traps differed, but the temporal activity patterns of red foxes and coyotes did not. Using a single-species occupancy model with the camera trap data, I found that red foxes occupied urban areas more than rural areas (β = 2.22; 95% CI [0.35 to 4.09]) and the probability of red fox occupancy was 0.82 for urban sites and 0.34 for rural sites. Citizen science observations of red foxes were highest in northern Lincoln and camera trap detections of red foxes were more common in southern Lincoln. My results suggest that citizen science observations biased temporal activity pattern results toward diurnal activity. However, including citizen science observations also appeared to augment spatial distribution data by observing foxes in areas where camera traps could not be placed. I recommended that citizen science can lead to a better understanding of wildlife ecology in urban areas since it can be cost-effective and augment data from other sources as long as potential biases are accounted for.