If you regularly check a wildlife camera at home, you probably have an excellent sense of which wildlife species are photographed most often at your camera site.
For my home cameras, cottontails and mourning doves are the two species that show up most reliably day after day. This means there are likely many individual cottontails and mourning doves active and living near my camera.
However, understanding how widely distributed species are in the Sky Island region requires having many cameras scattered around the region — and doesn’t necessarily require us to know how many times an individual species is photographed daily at each location. That’s one of the reasons why we launched Sky Island FotoFauna last year, a region-wide camera network powered by volunteers that studies the distribution (rather than the frequency) of over 44 species across the U.S. and Mexico.
Since launching FotoFauna in October 2020, volunteers have shared nearly 1,000 monthly species checklists from 283 camera sites distributed between Show Low, Arizona and Hermosillo, Sonora!
You can view the distribution of FotoFauna camera sites — and the different species they’ve detected — on our new Sky Island FotoFauna Dashboard. With so many cameras reporting data on the species they’ve seen, many of them for multiple months in a row, we now have a first glimpse of which of these 44 species have the widest distribution and are frequently present month after month.
Coyote is, so far, the most frequently observed species in the FotoFauna camera network with 595 monthly detections recorded. This means that out of nearly 1,000 checklists reported from across the region, coyote was present 61% of the time and scattered across urban, rural, and wild habitats.
After coyote is javelina with 473 monthly detections (meaning they are present 48% of the time).
Third place goes to bobcat with 400 monthly detections (meaning they are present 41% of the time).
While I do photograph all three of these mammal species on my home wildlife cameras, they don’t appear daily, so it’s fascinating and exciting to now know that these species have such a robust distribution and presence across the region.
Join us and help monitor local wildlife!
There are still 11 species that we have not yet detected through the Sky Island FotoFauna camera network. These species include bighorn sheep, kit fox, and beaver. Visit our new FotoFauna results webpage to see our species “Most Wanted List” that we hope to detect on camera with your help.