Students Research Captures
Image of Red Fox at Scout Field
As part of ongoing wildlife research, Bronxville High School students captured images of a red fox, using motion-activated cameras they set up at Scout Field. Under the guidance of Bronx River Research teacher Stephen Kovari, they set up the camera traps onto trees away from trails and in the immediate vicinity of the baseball field to gather data and study the activity patterns of different species.
“Trail cameras are an increasingly popular tool used by wildlife biologists and ecologists as a noninvasive method of monitoring otherwise elusive and difficult to detect species,” said Kovari, who conducted his own research over the summer at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire as a research assistant at Vassar College. “Camera traps take pictures, but these photos aren’t just images – they are data. This ecological data helps us understand what species we share our spaces with, but also how these species are able to carve out a living in a relatively crowded area.”
The images that the students will collect over the next several months will include the location, date, time, temperature and even moon cycle. Kovari said his students will note when different species pass by the camera, whether they are detected in some locations and not others, and whether species are seen in groups, alone, in the same areas as other species or avoiding other species.
“While these images are data, they are also still pictures, and I think there is something really special about getting a glimpse into the lives of our wild neighbors that we do not get to see very often,” Kovari said. “Coyotes, red foxes, skunks, raccoons, opossums and many other species are common in our area, but seldom seen. We often don’t think of our backyards as wildlife habitat, but many species thrive in our backyards, even in densely suburban areas like Bronxville.”
Once the students have collected the images, they will make observations about the number of species they saw on camera at each site and how that number changes between sites. They will consider reasons why this might be the case by thinking critically about the characteristics of each site. The students will also study the activity patterns of different species and compare the difference between common species and how this activity pattern might vary in other places.