MammalWeb Newsletter 06/12/2018

Published on December 6th 2018

MammalWeb Newsletter 06/12/2018

Thank you for all your efforts classifying photos this month, particularly for the County Durham Survey project. We were blown away by how many classifications everyone managed to do in a relatively short period of time, and we are really grateful! Read on to see just how many classifications were done on the project. In this newsletter, we also talk about recent changes to the website, where images on MammalWeb come from, and where to find guides to small mammal camera trapping. This will be our last newsletter before Christmas, so from all of us here at MammalWeb, we'd like to wish you a very merry Christmas, and we look forward to seeing what 2019 brings!

November 2018

Number of image sequences uploaded Number of image sequences classified
16,889 30,753

These values include all photos from the general MammalWeb UK project, and our other public projects. Thank you to everyone who has uploaded and classified photos this month.

Website updates

Some of you will have noticed that we have been doing maintenance on the website over the past month. As a result, at times, the website has been running slower and you may not have been able to classify or upload photos. We'd like to apologise for this. The underlying systems on which the MammalWeb platform is built had developed a backlog of required updates, and it was essential that this site maintenance was carried out. The backlog has been substantially reduced but further maintenance is still required.

We are aware of two ongoing problems that you might notice, depending on your internet speed. First, when you begin spotting, it can take a while before the first sequence is displayed. We will work to resolve this but it does seem to be a short-lived problem (with subsequent sequences displayed much more rapidly). Second, the site can be slightly "glitchy", occasionally taking a little while to respond to the "Next sequence" button, and even less frequently presenting a sequence that you have already classified (complete with your previous classification). We are looking into what causes this latter problem. If it happens to you, the best thing is to advance to the end of the sequence and click "Next sequence". We'll have it sorted out as soon as possible. If you spot any different problems, please do let us know by emailing: info@PROTECTED.

As part of the site update, we've also updated the statistics that are shown when you log in as a spotter. This includes your position in the spotter league table, which is based on the number of sequences you've classified. The statistics are currently updated at intervals, which may mean there is a lag between you classifying photos, and the relevant statistics being shown. Don't worry! If this happens, your classifications are still being counted; if you check back in a few hours, you should see the updated statistics. We will be increasing the frequency at which statistics are updated in due course. We hope you enjoy seeing how many classifications you've done, and trying to climb up the league table!

Zooming in on images

A common feature request is to be able to zoom in on parts of images to check what, if anything, they show. This is something on our wishlist too but it might not be possible to implement it very soon (because, amazing as Helen is - and it is she who does the development work - there is sadly only one of her!). One work-around that some MammalWeb spotters use is to right-click on a photo of interest and choose "Open image in new tab", or similar. Once the image is open in a new tab, some browsers will automatically zoom in when you click on the image; in other browsers, you might need to click CTRL+ (on a PC) or CMD+ (on a Mac) to enlarge the image. If you have cleverer work-arounds, we'd love to hear about them!

Where do images on MammalWeb come from?

As many of you will know, MammalWeb was initially trialled in County Durham and surrounding parts of North East England. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the vast majority of the data on the site still come from that area.  So far, 94 Trappers have uploaded over 500,000 images from cameras deployed at 424 different sites.  Of those, 14 sites lack location data but the other 410 are distributed as shown on the map.

As you can see, coverage is starting to expand from our original geographic focus.  Obviously, however, we’ll have a better chance of understanding where our wild mammals occur and what affects that if we can get much more comprehensive coverage across the UK.  Consequently, if you have contacts elsewhere in the country who might be interested in monitoring mammals, feel free to encourage them to get involved.  In fact, with Christmas coming, now might be a perfect time to kick start their interests with a timely gift of a camera trap (starting, seemingly, from as little as £32)!

On a related note, we are as interested in where wildlife does NOT occur as where it does occur.  Consequently, if you deploy a camera but get no wildlife pictures, it’s still valuable to upload the data, telling us where and for how long the camera was deployed.  This is most effective if you upload at least one image - so it would be worth ensuring that your camera triggers at least once during any deployment (e.g., by waving your hand in front of the sensor when you first deploy the camera, when you come back to collect it, or - ideally - both).

Guide to Small Mammal Camera Trapping

Thank you to everyone who has been trying out their small mammal ID skills on our new project: "Small Mammal Camera Trapping". The project includes some lovely close-up images of small mammals, that were taken using a modified camera trap. If you are interested in capturing similar images, be aware that there are some helpful guides that show you how you can modify your own camera trap, and make/buy the surrounding box, on our News page. Please note that you must be logged in to MammalWeb in order to see these guides. Once logged in, see links in the articles from the 08-11-2018 and the 13-11-2018. If you do have a go at modifying your own camera trap, or are already using camera traps in this way, then we'd love to hear from you! Email us at: info@PROTECTED.

County Durham Survey Project

Thank you to everyone who classified photos on the County Durham Survey project this month. You submitted a whopping 18,944 classifications, on almost 15,000 photo sequences, which is an astonishing achievement! We'd particularly like to say well done and thank you to Anne Kelly, Clive Moulding and Shannon McCallion, who were the winners of our prize draw, and walked away with either a £100 or £50 voucher.

The project is still open and we'd like to encourage you to keep spotting on the project, as the more classifications we get on each photo, the more confident we can be about what's in the photo (see here). There are also some photos yet to be uploaded, so keep a look out on the Projects page to see when these photos have been uploaded. For now, though, here are just some of the best photos from the project.

More great photos

If you would like to see more great photos that have been collected on MammalWeb over the past few years (mainly from our trappers Roland Ascroft and Anne Kelly), then check out this flickr album which has been kindly made by Pen, for everyone to enjoy!

Thank you for all your efforts this year, and Merry Christmas!


Prizes available for classifying photos on the County Durham Survey project!

Published on November 10th 2018

Prizes available for classifying photos on the County Durham Survey project!

We're bringing you this special edition newsletter because we need your help! As you saw in the last newsletter, we've recently made a new project available on MammalWeb: the "County Durham Survey" project. You can read more about the project on our Projects page. This survey was the largest ever camera trapping survey of County Durham, and as a result of this we have a huge amount of photos that we really need help classifying.

We're offering prizes to people who help us classify images on this project over the next couple of weeks. For every classification you do on the County Durham Survey project between Monday 12/11/2018 17:00 and Monday 26/11/2018 17:00, you’ll get one ‘ticket’ in a prize draw to win either a £100 Amazon voucher, or one of two £50 Amazon vouchers! The more classifications you do during this time, the more chance you’ll have to win!

To classify images on the project, choose the "County Durham Survey" from the dropdown "Select a project" box whilst spotting. Then click "Classify Selected Project Only".

Statistics on the project so far

Number of image sequences uploaded Number of image sequences classified
5271 1343

Thank you to everyone who has classified images so far. We'll be uploading plenty more sequences over the coming week, so there will be plenty of images in the project for you to classify!

Photos from the project so far

There are some beautiful photos in the project, below are just a few we've spotted so far. If you find a great photo whilst spotting, feel free to send it in to info@PROTECTED, or click the 'Like' button on the bottom right corner of the photo, to add it to our bank of favourite images.

Thank you again for all your efforts and please don't hesitate to get in touch!


MammalWeb Newsletter 05/11/2018

Published on November 5th 2018

MammalWeb Newsletter 05/11/2018

It's been a busy month here at MammalWeb! We've welcomed two new PhD students to our team, added a project listing page to our website, and made two new projects available. The NatureSpy team have also added a new batch of photos to their North York Moors project, so there are plenty of new photos to keep all of us Spotters busy over the next month! Read on for more information about everything we've been up to.

October 2018

Number of image sequences uploaded Number of image sequences classified
4868 5529

These values include all photos from the general MammalWeb UK project, and our other public projects. Thank you to everyone who has uploaded and classified photos this month.

Project listings page

With huge thanks to Helen, we now have a page on MammalWeb that lists all of our MammalWeb projects! Go to the 'Projects' tab on our website to take a look.

If you click on "More" under any project, you will find a short description of each project. You'll also see some summary charts, such as the ones shown below for the NatureSpy North York Moors project. The summary charts draw on what is becoming a very large data base and, as a result, they currently take a little while to appear. Those will be optimised in due course to speed them up. We also plan to make it possible to link straight through to classifying sequences for any specific project. Private projects are not listed on these pages but some projects that are currently private will soon be made available for public viewing.

Summary charts for a project are based on submitted classifications (rather than on strictly validated data but should, in any case, give a reasonable sense of the relative numbers of image sequences in which different species appear. They certainly suggest striking differences between the species most commonly photographed in a range of settings (including predominantly urban, entirely rural, arboreal, or with the assistance of baiting).

Notice that the "progress bars" identify the proportion of image sequences that have been classified at least once. In reality, we often need more than one classification to develop a reasonable sense of what's in a sequence (see further here). Consequently, if the progress bar suggests that 100% of the project's sequences have been classified but pictures are still available for you to classify, please keep spotting!

We look forward to developing the functionality of these pages still further, and to making new projects available. In the meantime, please check out the pages and, if you have any feedback, feel free to let us know at info@PROTECTED

County Durham Project

Some of you may know Sammy, a PhD student in the MammalWeb team. Sammy was kept busy this summer by rotating 40 cameras around 109 sites across the whole of County Durham. Data generated from this survey will be really valuable to help us study mammal distribution, abundance and behaviour. You can read more about the project over on our projects page. The survey generated over half a million images, so we would be really grateful for your help to classify them! There are some beautiful images among them, here are just a few we've picked out.

Small Mammal Camera Trapping Project

One of our long-term trappers, Roland, has recently modified two of his camera traps so that they can be used to study small mammals. You can read more about the project, including where the idea came from, on our projects page. The cameras have produced some great images of wood mice and shrews so far, see below for just a couple of examples. So, if you fancy trying out your small mammal ID skills, select the project 'Small Mammal Camera Trapping' when spotting. If you, or your organisation, is also using camera traps in this way to study small mammals, we'd love to hear from you. Please contact us at: info@PROTECTED

Welcome to Sian and Jonathan

At the start of October we welcomed Sian and Jonathan to the MammalWeb team. Both are PhD students who will be working on different projects related to MammalWeb. You'll probably hear more from both of them over the next few years but, until then, here are a couple of paragraphs they have written to introduce themselves:

Sian Green

Hi all, I’m really excited to be joining the MammalWeb team as I start my PhD, and as you may be hearing more from me in the not-so-distant future I thought I had better briefly introduce myself!

As an undergraduate, I studied Zoology at the University of Reading. During this time, I was fortunate enough to undertake research on carnivores in South Africa and, as part of this, was introduced to camera trapping. Since then I have been hooked! I went on to research wildlife in Costa Rica and Tanzania before undertaking a camera trapping study of the Mount Kenya Elephant Corridor as part of my Masters by Research at the University of Southampton. More recently, I have been sharing my passion for camera trapping in Romania, where I have led volunteers on mammal surveys as part of long-term monitoring there. One of my favourite things about camera traps is how often they surprise you with what they pick up! Also, as a mammal lover, it's so nice to be able to get an insight into the lives of animals we so rarely get to see.

As part of my PhD research I will be looking at ways to improve engagement, to get as many people as possible taking part in, and enjoying MammalWeb (for which I may be seeking your opinions!). As I progress, I also hope to start using all the incredible data our volunteers have worked hard to collect to start answering more questions about mammal abundance and ecology in the UK.

Jonathan Rees

My background is in Physics but I have decided to jump across disciplines to ecology. I will work on using Machine Leaning to improve, and to a degree automate, analysis of camera trap images. The overall aim of my project is to increase the speed and efficiency of the process, leading to the information contained in images being accessed much faster and, in turn, being put to good use much quicker. This should hopefully benefit everyone involved, including the animal species!

Thank you again for all your efforts this month and please don't hesitate to get in touch!


MammalWeb Newsletter 05/10/2018

Published on October 5th 2018

MammalWeb Newsletter 05/10/2018

MammalWeb spotters have had a busy month classifying lots of images - just look at the figure below! We've also had some great images sent in by trappers this month, so scroll down for a selection of those. As well as this, we've got an update about the Highlands Red Squirrel Project and some information on an upcoming MammalWeb talk in Newcastle. We also highlight some computer software which might be really useful for absent-minded trappers!

September 2018

Number of image sequences uploaded Number of image sequences classified
1982 17520

These values include all photos from the general MammalWeb UK project, and our other public projects. Thank you to everyone who has uploaded and classified photos this month.

Red Squirrel Project

Some of you may have noticed that the Highland Red Squirrel Project is no longer available on MammalWeb. This is because you all did such a great job at spotting that all the images are now classified! In total, 21,123 image sequences were classified, so thank you to everyone who took part! The team at the University of the Highlands and Islands is now busy looking through the data and determining what it all means. They'll hopefully be in a position to share some preliminary results of the project with you all in our next newsletter, so make sure you keep a look out for that.

MammalWeb talk in Newcastle

One of our PhD students, Sammy, will be doing a talk at Newcastle University on the 12th October for the Natural History Society of Northumbria (NHSN). She'll be talking about some of the findings from MammalWeb so far, plans for MammalWeb's future, and what her research focuses on. Sammy's talk is one of a series of talks called the '1829 Lectures', named after the year NHSN was founded. The talk will take place at the apt time of 18:29 in Ridley Building 2, room RIDB2.1.65, at Newcastle University (see map below). Sammy's talk will be followed by a lecture from Prof. Rory Putman of the British Deer Society, on 'Wild Deer and their Management in Britain: Burden or Benefit?'. Everyone is welcome to attend. The event is free for NHSN members, and non-members are requested to make a donation to the society. For more information about the event, and to see more talks and events hosted by NHSN, see here.

Correcting date and time on camera trap images

The date and time on camera trap images are really important, and can be used to gather more information on animals' behaviour and distribution, throughout the day and year. MammalWeb takes date and time info automatically from the images you upload, so it is really important that the date and time on the images are correct before you upload them. However, if, like us, you've been in the situation where you collect your camera trap, only to realise that you've put the date in incorrectly (usually owing to forgetting the camera is in US date format), then don't worry, we think we've found a solution! There is an easy-to-use piece of software, that can be used to change the date and time of camera trap images. So you can upload your images to MammalWeb and be sure that all the information will be read by MammalWeb correctly. We've written more about the software, where to find it, and how to use it for this purpose, on our News page. Note, that this software could also be used to alter the time on camera trap photos, if, for instance, you accidently set it to British Summer Time (BST), rather than Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). GMT is the time zone that should be used for all images uploaded to MammalWeb.

Some great photos!

MammalWeb trappers have shared some great photos this month. We really love seeing these images, so if you get a good one from your camera trap, then please do send it in, by emailing info@PROTECTED. Below are some of our favourites from this month. From top to bottom: A roe deer fawn, from Stuart; An otter family, from Roland; A badger, from Vivien; A stoat carrying a dead rabbit, from Helen.

Thank you again for all your efforts this month and please don't hesitate to get in touch!


MammalWeb Newsletter 03/09/2018

Published on September 3rd 2018

MammalWeb Newsletter 03/09/2018

This month, pine martens have hit news headlines twice, after there were confirmed reports of them in both Kielder Forest, Northumberland, and Derbyshire, after many years of being absent. Here at MammalWeb, we have our own pine marten related news, as we have a new project available - NatureSpy's Yorkshire Pine Marten Support Programme. Scroll down to find out more about the project and how to get involved!

August 2018

Number of image sequences uploaded Number of image sequences classified
2376 10260

These values include all photos from the general MammalWeb UK project, and our other public projects. Thank you to everyone who has uploaded and classified photos this month.

NatureSpy's Yorkshire Pine Marten Support Programme

We're really excited to announce a new partnership with NatureSpy, a non-profit organisation that - like MammalWeb - aims to engage people with the wildlife around them, and to research and conserve wildlife and habitats through study and monitoring. NatureSpy run a variety of projects and, at present, they are organising an intensive, 3-year project to study pine marten in the North York Moors. With the aid of volunteers, they are currently rotating camera traps around a variety of sites in the North York Moors, and a proportion of those traps are set to record still images. The traps yield large numbers of images and those will help to inform NatureSpy about the ecology of the area, aiding the development of a long-term conservation plan for pine marten in the area. If we're lucky, we might even see a picture or two of a pine marten!

If you are registered as a Spotter, the NatureSpy images will be available to classify by selecting "Classify All" from your Spotter home screen. To focus your efforts on helping the NatureSpy team, you can select "NatureSpy - North York Moors" and choose "Classify Selected Project Only".

MammalWeb Camera Locations

As many of you know, MammalWeb was first set up as a local project in the North East. Hence, most images uploaded by our trappers have come from cameras located in the North East, which you can see from the first map below. We're now keen to make MammalWeb not just a local project, but a national one! We've been encouraged over the past year to find spotters and trappers keen to participate in MammalWeb from all over the country. This, coupled with input from other projects such as the Highland Red Squirrel project, has meant that now images have been uploaded to MammalWeb from different parts of the country, as you can see from the second map below. There are still many more parts of the country that we would love to see camera trap images from however. If you have friends or family who use camera traps in different parts of the country, or, in some of the more under-represented parts of the North East, then help us spread the word about MammalWeb and fill in some of the gaps on our map!

What's to like?

We've noticed that people's use of MammalWeb's 'Like' button seems to vary a lot. Some people use it to flag particularly striking images, as we'd expect. Others, however, seem to use it to flag photos that puzzle or even annoy them, perhaps owing to an unexpected or uninspired field of view. Given that most images are seen by relatively few people, it can be hard to get a sense of what photos are really capturing people's attention. If you sometimes use the 'Like' button for reasons other than to flag a really interesting image, let us know. It might even prompt us to modify the Spotter interface! In the meantime, we thought we'd share this image of a pensive red fox (see attached), courtesy of NatureSpy, which is one of the more recent 'Liked' photos on the site.

Thank you again for all your efforts this month and please don't hesitate to get in touch!


MammalWeb Newsletter 06/08/2018

Published on August 6th 2018

MammalWeb Newsletter 06/08/2018

This month we've seen over 10000 image sequences, from across our MammalWeb public projects, classified! This is a great achievement, and it's brilliant to see participants enjoying classifying images from our new projects, such as the Highland Red Squirrel Project. There are thousands of new image sequences now uploaded that need to be classified, so keep up the good work! Also this month saw the first paper based on MammalWeb published. See below for more details on the paper, as well as results from a Durham University student's camera trapping project, and how to help wildlife in this heat.

July 2018

Number of image sequences uploaded Number of image sequences classified
16872 10508

These values include all photos from the general MammalWeb UK project, and our other public projects. Thank you to everyone who has uploaded and classified photos this month.

New paper making sense of submitted classifications!

The first paper based on MammalWeb has recently been published in the journal Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation. You can find the paper here. The paper compares user-submitted classifications to a set of over 10,000 image sequences that have been looked at by "experts" to determine their subjects. The results have helped us learn how confident we can be about classifications on MammalWeb, and we've been very pleased with the results! For example, for 10 of the commoner species, we can be over 90% sure that they appear in an image sequence, even when we have only one classification to say so! To read more about the findings take a look at our News page. We'd like to thank all of our MammalWeb participants as, through the classifications you submitted on MammalWeb, you were all key contributors to the paper. Without you, research like this wouldn't be able to happen. So, thank you, and please keep spotting and trapping!

Student study on impact of urbanisation on mammals

Toby Atkinson-Coyle recently graduated from the biology department at Durham University: congratulations Toby! For his final year project, Toby worked with the MammalWeb team on a camera trapping project looking at the impact of urbanisation on mammals in Durham. Toby has written more on our News page about what he did and the findings from his project. Below are just a couple of examples of the many images Toby captured during the project!

How to help wildlife in the heat

With these ongoing high temperatures it can be a tough time for wildlife. The Durham Wildlife Trust has put together a list of 5 things you can do to help wildlife in your gardens/allotments in this heat:

1. Birdbaths. Making a bird bath for our feathered friends is always a great way to help birds in the hotter months. Turn your garden into a space for nature by putting a washing up tub filled with cool water outside and let birds clean their feathers and then perch in a sunny spot to dry off. Leaving a bowl of fresh water out can also help our mammals out by giving them something to drink in this hot weather. However, make sure the water is only shallow, or put in a small ramp, so that hedgehogs can get out easily if they have to.

2. Take care of your garden or allotment. Plants that are watered regularly and gardens with large habitat areas are vital for butterflies and bees in the hot weather.

3. Create a nature passage. Creating a link between your garden and your neighbours enables hedgehogs and toads to move freely between gardens which raises the quality of wildlife for all to enjoy.

4. Leaving out much needed food. Finding food is also a challenge for hedgehogs and other wildlife in the hot weather. Worms usually make their way deep down into soil, making it difficult for those who usually eat them such as, hedgehogs, robins and frogs. Durham Wildlife Trust would suggest putting out a juicy snack for hedgehogs such as tinned dog food (non-fish based).

5. Add shade to your garden. Many animals will seek out shade during the hot periods of the summer and a good way to help them is by creating a shaded area in your garden so they can cool off. Create a pile of fallen tree branches in a shaded area of your garden to help smaller animals during the heat.


Thank you again for all your efforts this month and please don't hesitate to get in touch!


MammalWeb Newsletter 07/07/2018

Published on July 7th 2018

MammalWeb Newsletter 07/07/2018

We hope you've all been enjoying the lovely weather recently and have taken advantage of these hot days to get out there and do some camera trapping! We've loved seeing your photos on Facebook and Twitter this month, so please keep them coming. Remember, if you have any great photos, then you can also email them to us at: info@PROTECTED. Many of you will have seen the news this month about the plight of the UK’s mammals. Several commentators emphasised the need for better data on our wild mammals, which is exactly what you are helping to provide by contributing to MammalWeb. Please keep up the good work! Recognising the renewed emphasis on declining mammals, the MammalWeb team are pleased to report that we will soon be making it easier to help out with research into both red squirrels and Scottish wildcats - two of the species that are recognised to be most imperilled.  This month, we introduced two new projects on MammalWeb: The Highland Red Squirrel Project and The North Pennines National Nature Reserves Project. In this newsletter we've included some information about the projects and how you can help!

June 2018

Number of image sequences uploaded Number of image sequences classified
1545 4320

These values include all photos from the general MammalWeb UK project, and our other public projects. Thank you to everyone who has uploaded and classified photos this month. Keep up the good work!


As we mentioned in our last newsletter, the MammalWeb platform can now accommodate a range of projects, which allows different groups and organisations to make use of the platform, enabling more tailored use of options and species lists, and facilitating data management.  Over coming months, you will notice some changes to the Spotting options.  In particular, the “Select a project” option on the Spotter homepage will list increasing numbers of projects that you might like to help out with.  We will introduce those projects in our newsletters, as they start to accumulate a bank of images that would benefit from Spotting.  There are more details, below, regarding the first two projects that are publicly-available.

The Highland Red Squirrel Project

What is the aim of the project? This project is being run by a team based at the University of the Highlands and Islands in collaboration with Forest Enterprise Scotland.  They aim to determine the impact on red squirrel breeding success, ranging behaviour and drey (squirrel nest) usage of habitat fragmentation and habitat loss caused by forest operations. They are also looking into the use of nest boxes as a potential mitigation measure for forest operations taking place during the breeding season.

Why is the project necessary? Red squirrels are charismatic members of the UK’s native fauna but have been highlighted as one of our more threatened native mammals. It is important that we manage remaining populations to ensure a strong base from which the population can expand when conditions have improved. In Scotland, where around 75% of the remaining red squirrel population can be found, Forest Enterprise Scotland manages over 400,000 ha of Scotland’s multi-functional forests and need to plan mitigation for their forest operations.  There is, however, very limited information about the impact of disturbance caused by forest operations on red squirrels.  Without knowing the impacts of those operations, if any, it’s difficult to know what mitigation, if any, is needed.

How does the project work? The team have set up camera traps that will capture animals investigating or going into and out of the nest boxes.  Owing to the possibilities of false triggers and to the frequency with which other species (especially birds) will use the nest boxes, the monitoring has yielded large numbers of images.  The team need as much help as possible to classify what (if anything) is using the nest boxes.

How can I help? When spotting on MammalWeb, you now have the option to choose which project you want to classify images from. By selecting 'Highland Red Squirrel Project' and then clicking 'Classify Selected Project Only', you will only see images from this project. Images will appear like the one below, showing a nest box. All you then need to do is tell us which, if any, species is present in the image, by clicking on the species buttons to the right of the image. Remember to look through the whole image sequence before making your classification.

Please Note: Owing to the logistical difficulties of deploying cameras at various heights in the forest, and of setting up the cameras after deployment, some of the early image sequences for the Red Squirrel project are of the set-up process.  We anticipate that Spotting the images will become more rewarding as we progress through the data set.

North Pennines NNRs

The North Pennines National Nature Reserves are managed by Natural England and are located across County Durham, Cumbria and Northumberland. The sites incorporate a wide variety of rare habitat types including oak wooded gorges, upland limestone flushes, unique valleys mires and the summit heaths and blanket bogs of the highest points on the Pennine ridge. NNR staff will be deploying camera traps around the reserves opportunistically, recording wildlife not often seen by other methods. The images will help to build an understanding of how the NNR sites are used by mammals and how this may inform management practice, as well as feeding scarce upland records into regional species distribution data. The camera trapping process and images generated will also provide staff with a great engagement and educational resource, allowing them to share some great wildlife sightings with volunteers and visitors. They are also aiming to get the highest camera trap in the county!   

You can contribute by helping them to document what is pictured on their traps.  From the Spotter homepage, select 'North Pennines NNRs' and then click 'Classify Selected Project Only’.  The team have only recently started to deploy the cameras and, at present, image data come from only one site.  However, this coverage should increase over coming weeks and months, providing glimpses of what goes on in some of England’s most remote habitats.

Changes to the Spotting Process

Many of you have asked us to increase the range of species that you can choose from when spotting.  We will soon be implementing changes to give this much greater flexibility, without forcing you to wade through long species lists each time you classify what’s in an image sequence.  Specifically, when you are spotting, you should soon see something like the screenshot below.  At the top will be 3 or more “filters”, which will allow you to navigate rapidly between lists of common species, and full lists of either mammals or birds.  In some cases, there might also be a list of species that are most likely to turn up among images associated with the project you are Spotting.  For the vast majority of image sequences you look at, the pictured species will be in the “Common” list (which will usually be the default display).  If you are lucky, however, sometimes you might see an unusual species.  In those cases, you can click on the “Mammals” or “Birds” filters to find what you are looking for.  Those lists are arranged alphabetically and you can use the page selectors to jump to a different page of the list.  Bear in mind that it might take a little while before you find those rarer species in the lists.  For example, if you are looking for a mink under “M”, you might need to check whether we have discriminated between mink species (in which case, the American mink will be under “A”).  For some species, we have also retained less certain designations for when you know what sort of animal it is but you can’t identify it to species-level.  For example, you can find “Unidentified bird” under “U” in the birds list, and "Small rodent (unknown species)" under “S” in the mammals list.  If possible, however, do identify to species level.

We are particularly grateful to the Economic and Social Research Council’s Impact Acceleration Account for funding this (and some of our other recent developments) and to Helen for making our vague notions a useful reality!  We’d welcome your feedback on this new approach once it’s available.  Also, do let us know if we have overlooked any species, or if you think there are others that would be a higher priority for the “Common” species filters.  As always, you can send suggestions to info@PROTECTED.

Thank you again for all your efforts this month and please don't hesitate to get in touch!


MammalWeb Newsletter 08/06/2018

Published on June 8th 2018

MammalWeb Newsletter 08/06/2018

Hello and welcome to all new subscribers to our MammalWeb newsletter! We hope you've had a good month spotting and trapping. With spring in full swing now, maybe you've caught a glimpse of this years mammal offspring on your camera traps. If you have, we'd love to see them too, so drop us an email at: info@PROTECTED

May 2018

Number of image sequences uploaded Number of image sequences classified
1530 4786

Thank you to everyone who has uploaded and classified photos this month. Keep up the good work!

Each month we get sent in some great photos and videos from MammalWeb users across the country. Whenever possible, we like to share these photos and videos by posting them on our News page and/or on Facebook and Twitter. If you haven't done so already check out these pages for photos/videos from this month of pine marten kits, wild boar humbugs and a squirrel face-off! If you get a great photo/video on your camera trap, or if you have camera trapping story you'd like to share, then we'd love to know. Please get in touch by emailing: info@PROTECTED

Website Changes

You're probably aware that we recently made some changes to the MammalWeb website, including changes to make spotting more efficient. We'll be requesting more formal feedback about what you think of the changes soon.  However, if anyone has any comments on the site and how it's working, we'd love to hear from you any time, so feel free to drop us an email at: info@PROTECTED. We would also like to remind people that, when spotting, classification is now by image sequence, not individual images. This means that you do not need to classify images individually; instead, look through the whole sequence before providing your classification of all the animals that appear in it.

Bargain Camera Traps!

The R20 camera trap (pictured right) has recently come back on the market for less than £60. Some of our trappers who use this camera have been impressed with the quality of this camera trap, considering its low price tag. One of our trappers, Roland, even did a formal head-to-head comparison of its perfomance with that of a much more expensive camera trap and found them to be fairly similar. If you're looking to buy your own camera trap but are on a budget, then the R20 is a great option. You can buy them now from Amazon. For more information about buying your own camera trap, including information on other camera trap models available and useful links to UK suppliers, check out our Buying your own camera trap guide.


MammalWeb recently updated its platform to enable groups/organisations to have their own 'projects' within MammalWeb. You can read more about projects, and the implications this has for spotting and trapping, here. If you belong to a group or organisation working on a camera trapping project and think that this function of MammalWeb could be of use to you, please get in touch. MammalWeb can: accomodate projects of large or small scale; allows you to have ready and easy access to your data; facilitate collaborative classification of your images; provide n easily digestible breakdown of your images' metadata and classifications; and act as a great outreach and engagement platform. You can set your project to be public or private, and you can also determine how images should be prioritised for classification. We don't share any information with the public without explicit consent from you, so if you are working on a particularly vulnerable species you don't need to worry about information such as location being widely available. If you have any questions at all about projects on MammalWeb, or are unsure about whether MammalWeb could help with your project, then please get in touch by emailing: info@PROTECTED. 

 Science Postgraduate Excellence in Outreach Award

Many of you will know Pen, one of the PhD students working on MammalWeb. As we reported previously, Pen won a prize for the best student talk at December's "Ecology across Borders" meeting, jointly run by the British Ecological Society and a number of other European ecological societies. You can now listen to Pens talk here. We're excited to report that, in addition, Pen has recently won the 'Science Postgraduate Excellence in Outreach Award' for his fantastic work with engaging school students with MammalWeb. Well done Pen! As part of this outreach work Pen worked with students from Belmont Community School in Durham, teaching them about camera trapping, and allowing them to do their own field work and research with the camera traps. Together, they made a video to explain more about MammalWeb and their experiences with it. You can watch the full video by clicking here, or a shorter version of the video here.

We wish to continue with the great work Pen did working in schools. If you're a teacher, or work in a school, and would like your students to be involved in MammalWeb then please get in touch at: info@PROTECTED.

Thank you again for all your efforts this month and please don't hesitate to get in touch!


MammalWeb Newsletter 03/05/2018

Published on May 3rd 2018

MammalWeb Newsletter 03/05/2018

Hello and welcome to all subscribers to our MammalWeb newsletter! Here at MammalWeb, we're working on a lot of exciting changes, new projects and expansion. As a result, we've set up this newsletter to keep you up to date with everything that is going on, tell you about new opportunities to join in with MammalWeb and give you a chance to tell us and everyone else about your camera trapping experiences! As ever please feel free to get in touch (info@PROTECTED) if you have any questions, comments or feedback, or simply want to let us know what you're up to.

Website Changes

You're probably aware that there have been some changes to the MammalWeb website. We hope that these changes have made spotting more efficient, and that the development of 'projects' will give new organisations working on particular areas the chance to use the MammalWeb platform. If you haven't done so already, we'd encourage you to take a look at the new instructions for 'spotting', 'trapping' and 'projects' on the Learn page of our website. In particular, we would like to highlight that, when spotting, classification is now by image sequence, not individual images. This means that you do not need to classify images individually; instead, look through the whole sequence before providing your classification of all the animals that appear in it.

We'd love to hear any feedback you have on the changes, you can email us at: info@PROTECTED

April 2018

Number of image sequences uploaded Number of image sequences classified
916 4138

Thank you to everyone who has uploaded and classified photos this month. Keep up the good work!

Each month we'll choose a photo/video that has been sent in by one of our trappers. This month is a snapshot from a video sent to us of a pair of courting otters! This is a rare sight, as male and female otters only come together to breed. To catch them both on camera at the same time is amazing. You can watch the full video on our facebook or twitter page.

Ongoing Projects

One of our PhD students, Sammy has been camera trapping at Raby Castle in order to try out a new method for estimating animal density from camera trap images. You can read about the method and how she is trialling it at Raby Castle on our News page. All of the cameras have now been brought back in and Sammy is busy analysing thousands of deer from the images! We'll let you know how she gets on but, in the meantime, here are some images of some rather nosy deer!

Over To You ...

We always love to hear about your camera trapping experiences and, in this section of the newsletter, we're keen to share your experiences with other MammalWeb users! Whether you are on a mission to catch an elusive mammal in your area, working as part of a group, using a camera trap with your school pupils, running your own mini experiments, or simply trying out camera trapping for the first time, please get in touch. Roland, one of our MammalWeb trappers, recently wrote an article all about his experiences with camera trapping in the Deerness Woods. To read the article head over to our News page or click here to link to the online pdf. 

Thank you again for all your efforts this month and please don't hesitate to get in touch!