BS in Environmental Management and Protection
Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences Department
The Santa Margarita Wildlife Carnivore Survey was designed to study the diversity of wildlife of the Santa Margarita Ranch, and to provide an interface with the Learning Among the Oaks (LATO) outdoor education program. The study took place in the coastal range of California, United States, and was aimed at addressing species specific analysis including habitat utilization, latency to detection, and activity patterns. Target species included native carnivores (mountain lion, bobcats, coyotes) and nonnative species of management concern (feral pigs, red fox). Working nights and camera efficiency were also compared between camera models. Six Cuddeback cameras were deployed on Santa Margarita Ranch for a seven week study period from January 27th, 2012 to March 16th, 2012. Overall, 12 species of mammals and six species of birds were detected. Of the 12 mammal species, seven were carnivores (bobcat, coyote, red fox, mountain lion, opossum, raccoon, and striped skunk). The remaining five mammalian species were deer, feral pig, rabbit, grey squirrel and ground squirrel. Black bear and grey fox were not detected at all during the survey. The highest mammalian utilization intensity occurred at Site 3 from ground squirrel visits (15.37 visits per survey day), and the highest carnivore utilization intensity occurred at Site 2 from coyote visits (0.35 visits per survey day). Median carnivore latency periods ranged from 4.5 days (coyote) to 26 days (raccoon and mountain lion). Activity patterns were analyzed with a chi square goodness of fit test (α=0.05) for coyote, deer, feral pig, and ground squirrel. Coyote (p=0.68) and feral pig (p=0.60) showed no significant selection for activity during different times of the 24hr diel period. Deer (p=0.00089) were more active during dusk and less active during day than expected by chance. Ground squirrels (p=6.9x10198) showed selection toward activity during the day and avoidance of activity during night and dawn. Camera efficiency data indicated that the newer model Cuddeback Attack cameras were considerably more efficient (99.08% of images contained data) than the older model Excites (88.99% of images contained data). Excite models should be replaced for further study to increase camera efficiency and improve the chance of capturing individuals. Additionally, data should be collected yearround to obtain greater statistical power in analyzing data and to offer comparison across seasons.