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- The Journal of arachnology
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- National Science Foundation
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Zooming in on mechanistic predator–prey ecology: Integrating camera traps with experimental methods to reveal the drivers of ecological interactions1. Camera trap technology has galvanized the study of predator-prey ecology in wild animal communities by expanding the scale and diversity of predator-prey interactions that can be analyzed. While observational data from systematic camera arrays have informed inferences on the spatiotemporal outcomes of predator-prey interactions, the capacity for observational studies to identify mechanistic drivers of species interactions is limited. 2. Experimental study designs that utilize camera traps uniquely allow for testing hypothesized mechanisms that drive predator and prey behavior, incorporating environmental realism not possible in the lab while benefiting from the distinct capacity of camera traps to generate large data sets from multiple species with minimal observer interference. However, such pairings of camera traps with experimental methods remain underutilized. 3. We review recent advances in the experimental application of camera traps to investigate fundamental mechanisms underlying predator-prey ecology and present a conceptual guide for designing experimental camera trap studies. 4. Only 9% of camera trap studies on predator-prey ecology in our review mention experimental methods, but the application of experimental approaches is increasing. To illustrate the utility of camera trap-based experiments using a case study, we propose a study design that integrates observational and experimental techniques to test a perennialmore »
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