Although dragonflies are excellent environmental indicators for monitoring terrestrial water ecosystems, automatic monitoring techniques using digital tools are limited. We designed a novel camera trapping system with an original dragonfly detector based on the hypothesis that perching dragonflies can be automatically detected using inexpensive and energy-saving photosensors built in a perch-like structure. A trial version of the camera trap was developed and evaluated in a case study targeting red dragonflies (Sympetrum spp.) in Japan. During an approximately 2-month period, the detector successfully detected Sympetrum dragonflies while using extremely low power consumption (less than 5 mW). Furthermore, a short-term field experiment using timelapse cameras for validation at three locations indicated that the detection accuracy was sufficient for practical applications. The frequency of false positive detection ranged from 17 to 51 over an approximately 2-day period. The detection sensitivities were 0.67 and 1.0 at two locations, where a time-lapse camera confirmed that Sympetrum dragonflies perched on the trap more than once. However, the correspondence between the detection frequency by the camera trap and the abundance of Sympetrum dragonflies determined by field observations conducted in parallel was low when the dragonfly density was relatively high. Despite the potential for improvements in our camera trap and its application to the quantitative monitoring of dragonflies, the low cost and low power consumption of the detector make it a promising tool.
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