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Can you help identify these creatures? Citizen scientists needed to track UK’s animals

Durham University is asking for help from the public to identify mammals in the UK (Credit: PA)

Members of the public are being urged to help scientists track and record mammal activity in the UK.

The experts say it will help us to better understand how animals are coping with climate change.

Citizen scientists are needed to help identify the the animals in the videos and images uploaded to the MammalWeb database – taken by camera traps across the country.

The insight will help provide a more comprehensive record of UK mammal activity and support future research and conservation efforts, scientists at Durham University said.

Professor Phil Stephens, from the department of biosciences at Durham University, said: ‘Now, more than ever, it’s vitally important that we build a comprehensive picture of the UK’s mammal populations.

‘We need to build a greater understanding of how climate change and events such as the droughts we experienced in the UK this summer will impact upon mammal distribution and behaviour.’

EMBARGOED TO 0001 WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 12 Undated handout photo issued by Durham University of a camera trap attached to a tree trunk. Issue date: Tuesday October 11, 2022. PA Photo. The department of biosciences at Durham University are looking for citizen scientists to help identify the animals in the videos and images uploaded in the MammalWeb database that were taken by camera traps across the country. The insight will help provide a more comprehensive record of UK mammal activity and support future research and conservation efforts, scientists at Durham University said.Issue date: Tuesday October 11, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SCIENCE/Mammal. Photo credit should read: Laura Degnan/Durham University/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

Camera traps installed by Durham University have captured 440,000 image sequences for the MammalWeb database (Credits: PA)

Durham University scientists founded the MammalWeb network in 2013 with aim to build a picture of mammal habits and behaviours across the country.

So far, camera traps have captured 440,000 image sequences and videos, with more than 180,000 mammal detections.

Rare captures have included both North and South American members of the raccoon family, which the researchers said, are ‘highly adaptable animals with the potential to cause trouble for native wildlife’.

Other originally non-native UK species include the muntjac deer, fallow deer, grey squirrels, brown hares and rabbits.

EMBARGOED TO 0001 WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 12 Undated handout photo issued by Durham University of adult and juvenile deers captured on a camera trap. Issue date: Tuesday October 11, 2022. PA Photo. The department of biosciences at Durham University are looking for citizen scientists to help identify the animals in the videos and images uploaded in the MammalWeb database that were taken by camera traps across the country. The insight will help provide a more comprehensive record of UK mammal activity and support future research and conservation efforts, scientists at Durham University said.Issue date: Tuesday October 11, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SCIENCE/Mammal. Photo credit should read: Pen-Yuan Hsing/Durham University/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

Adult and juvenile deers captured on a camera trap (Credits: PA)

Native UK species caught on film include red squirrels, badgers, otters, foxes, stoats, wild boar and pine marten.

The latest findings from the MammalWeb project have been published in the journal Ecological Solutions and Evidence.

At present, the database collects data from more than 2,500 sites across the UK but the scientists are also looking for volunteers who can set up their own camera traps and upload pictures of wildlife.

EMBARGOED TO 0001 WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 12 Undated handout photo issued by Durham University of a hare captured on a camera trap. Issue date: Tuesday October 11, 2022. PA Photo. The department of biosciences at Durham University are looking for citizen scientists to help identify the animals in the videos and images uploaded in the MammalWeb database that were taken by camera traps across the country. The insight will help provide a more comprehensive record of UK mammal activity and support future research and conservation efforts, scientists at Durham University said.Issue date: Tuesday October 11, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SCIENCE/Mammal. Photo credit should read: Michael Coates/Durham University/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

Can you identify this hare? (Credits: PA)

Lead author Dr Pen-Yuan Hsing, at The University of Bristol, said: ‘Bringing together this information in one place helps us to build a bigger, more coherent dataset charting the UK’s mammal populations and activities.

‘By getting involved, people can really make a difference to understanding and protecting the future of these amazing animals, which are integral to the biodiversity that we all intimately depend on.’


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