Biodiv Sci ›› 2020, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (9): 1125-1131.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2020188

• Special Feature: Wildlife Camera-trapping Networks in China • Previous Articles     Next Articles

China’s wildlife camera-trap monitoring needs a unified standard

William J. McShea1, Xiaoli Shen2, Fang Liu3, Tianming Wang4, Zhishu Xiao5, Sheng Li6,*()   

  1. 1 Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park, Front Royal, VA 22630, USA
    2 State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
    3 Research Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection, Key Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Environment of National Forestry and Grassland Administration, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China
    4 School of Life Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    5 State Key Laboratory of Integrated Management of Pest Insects and Rodents in Agriculture, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    6 School of Life Sciences & Institute of Ecology, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2020-09-28 Accepted:2020-10-26 Online:2020-09-20 Published:2020-11-19
  • Contact: Sheng Li


Conserving biodiversity relies on the effective monitoring of species in a timely and credible way. Camera traps provide images and metadata for many mammal species and are now used widely enough that they can provide a viable method for biodiversity monitoring. Camera-trapping is rapidly deployable, allows standardization of protocols, and provides a voucher specimen (i.e. image) with relevant information about the species’ location, time and date of capture, and other capture details (camera model, etc.). This technique has resulted in millions of images being captured and stored for current and future examination of biodiversity. Camera-trapping has become particularly popular in China. Multiple institutions are running their own monitoring programs and collecting and storing wildlife images and associated metadata. There is an urgent need to standardize the metadata format in order to share data across institutions and with the larger conservation community. Global data sharing repositories, such as Wildlife Insights, exist but will need China’s data to effectively track global efforts for achieving sustainability. Three steps are needed for this to occur: common data standards, data sharing agreements and data embargo policies. We urge the Chinese conservation community to develop the policies and the mechanisms needed to share wildlife images within China and with the international community.

Key words: camera-trapping, metadata, Aichi Biodiversity Targets, wildlife data repositories, data embargos