UofA Campus Camera Trap Set-Up

Written by: Micah Kaufmann, Earth Grant Intern

A wildlife camera trap has been set up on campus. In a little corner behind the College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture building (CAPLA), lies the Underwood Family Sonoran Laboratory. The Sonoran Lab is a mini-recreation of a riparian habitat that one might find in the Sonoran Desert. Its water source comes from parking lot and building runoff, which pools into a healthy-looking greywater pond, in turn providing a home for threatened and endangered fish species. It acts as a mini-oasis for both the students, staff, and faculty University of Arizona, as well as other animal species that have been displaced by urban development.  

I am a fourth-year Environmental Science major, with an Anthropology minor, and am very interested in the ways that human activities and culture interact with the rest of the natural world. I am passionate about the idea that human beings, as a population and as individuals, are not separate from nature, but a part of the very lands we deem as ‘wild.’ I’ve grown up with coyotes wandering around my neighborhoods and birds performing their varied mating rituals, all surrounded by brick and concrete. Human urban areas are not separate from wildlife, but overlaid with the habitats of other creatures, and I wanted to see what creatures may be living their lives in a well-populated area that is a part of mine and many others’ daily lives.  

The Sonoran Lab is a special place. I’ve seen photography students get a chance to photograph nature on campus, people using the peace of the area to stretch and relax, and some sitting to enjoy the fish and birds that live here. It is well-maintained and studied by its staff who care very much for it, and I’m grateful that they are just as excited as I am to find out what animals might be using the garden space when humans are not around.  

In the coming weeks, I’ll be checking on the camera periodically and sorting through the photos that it captures. The hope is that, by the end of the semester, I’ll be able to compile my findings into a sort of photobook or presentation on behalf of the Earth Grant program, through whom I am interning with Sky Island Alliance.  

The Sonoran Lab is a small, secluded, hidden part of campus that many people love. I hope that this project will allow those who are fans of the garden to gain a deeper understanding of and greater appreciation for its many functions. Not only is it a great place for urban-bound humans to experience natural space, but it provides a home and refuge for many other creatures. Be warned, garden visitors, and smile for the camera! 

If you’d like to learn more about the garden (and maybe visit it sometime), you can read all about it here: Underwood Family Sonoran Landscape Laboratory | College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture (arizona.edu) 

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