Michael Cove

Michael Cove
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences · Mammalogy

PhD
Now recruiting for new partners to join SNAPSHOT USA — Fall 2022. See data paper and WildlifeInsights for more details.

About

78
Publications
30,559
Reads
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808
Citations
Introduction
My professional goals include using traditional methods as well as current noninvasive survey techniques and statistical modeling procedures to study population and community ecology both locally and internationally. My research interests are mainly focused on the conservation of mammal communities, but also mesopredator release and trophic cascades, the urban/suburban wildlife interface, species invasions, and human dimensions of conservation and sustainable development in the tropics.
Additional affiliations
July 2018 - February 2020
Smithsonian Institution
Position
  • PostDoc Position
June 2012 - March 2018
North Carolina State University
Position
  • PostDoc Position
August 2008 - April 2011
University of Central Missouri
Position
  • Research Assistant
Education
August 2012 - September 2016
North Carolina State University
Field of study
  • Zoology
August 2008 - August 2011
University of Central Missouri
Field of study
  • Biology
July 2003 - April 2007
University of Connecticut
Field of study
  • Animal Science

Publications

Publications (78)
Article
Full-text available
Noninvasive camera-traps are commonly used to survey mammal communities in the Neotropics. This study used camera-traps to survey medium and large mammal diversity in the San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor, Costa Rica. The connectivity of the corridor is affected by the spread of large-scale agriculture, cattle ranching, and a growing human pr...
Article
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In their recent article, Batavia et al. (2018) suggest that trophy hunting and taking animal parts is morally wrong, but also note that the practice is generally accepted by conservationists as a source of revenue for local communities and conservation efforts. I agree with their suggestions and applaud them for bringing this conservation conundrum...
Article
Exotic predators create novel ecological contexts for native species, particularly when prey exhibit predator naïve behaviors. Population recovery of island endemic species following predator eradication has been documented broadly, but studies examining mammalian prey behavioral responses to exotic predator removal are less common. The Key Largo w...
Article
Full-text available
With the accelerating pace of global change, it is imperative that we obtain rapid inventories of the status and distribution of wildlife for ecological inferences and conservation planning. To address this challenge, we launched the SNAPSHOT USA project, a collaborative survey of terrestrial wildlife populations using camera traps across the Unite...
Article
Full-text available
Mammalian carnivores are elusive and enigmatic species that often play keystone roles in ecosystems through direct and indirect effects. Growing evidence shows that human activity can impact carnivore behavior and community structure by altering predator-prey interactions, shifting diel activity patterns, and altering wildlife movement. Our goal wa...
Article
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Protected areas serve an important role in wildlife conservation, yet most wildlife occur outside these areas, subject to varying degrees of human disturbance. In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, American black bears (Ursus americanus), a highly mobile, opportunistic species, are common despite an extensive outdoor recreation industry with the pote...
Article
Accurate information about the number of cats living outdoors and how they respond to different kinds of management are necessary to quell debates about outdoor cat policy. The DC Cat Count will develop the tools and methodologies needed to realize this possibility and make them available for broader use. This three-year initiative represents a maj...
Chapter
The absences of large carnivores from many ecosystems, human‐induced landscape changes, and resource supplementation have been theorized to increase the abundance of small carnivore species around the world. Overabundant and/or unconstrained small carnivores can have significant effects on specific prey species that, in some cases, can cascade thro...
Article
Florida is renowned for its non-native reptile communities, with 2 such pervasive non-native species including the apex predator Python bivittatus (Burmese Python) and the herbivorous Iguana iguana (Green Iguana) that showcase the spectrum of their ecological impacts. Both species have recently expanded into the Florida Keys. We used a camera trap...
Article
Full-text available
Managing wildlife populations in the face of global change requires regular data on the abundance and distribution of wild animals but acquiring these over appropriate spatial scales in a sustainable way has proven challenging. Here we present the data from Snapshot USA 2020, a second annual national mammal survey of the United States of America. T...
Article
While museum voucher specimens continue to be the standard for species identifications, biodiversity data are increasingly represented by photographic records from camera traps and amateur naturalists. Some species are easily recognized in these pictures, others are impossible to distinguish. Here we quantify the extent to which 335 terrestrial non...
Article
A pervasive but understudied global change is occurring in the Anthropocene. Wildlife mass mortality events (MMEs) are increasing in frequency causing the abrupt entry of unusually large amounts of carrion into ecosystems, while most vertebrate obligate scavenger species are declining. We hypothesized that behavioral plasticity could still allow ob...
Article
The ecological impact of free-roaming domestic cats (Felis catus) is well-studied. However, despite receiving considerable attention in both the scientific and popular literature, predation behavior is rarely an explicit consideration when developing cat population management plans. We used motion-activated wildlife cameras to document predation ev...
Article
Natural habitats have been converted to urban areas across the globe such that many landscapes now represent matrices of developed and protected lands. As urbanization continues to expand, associated pressures on wildlife will increase, including effects on animals in adjacent protected habitats. For prey species (e.g., ungulates), an understanding...
Article
Increasing availability of anthropogenic food affects biological communities and can alter food webs at the urban interface. Although northern raccoons (Procyon lotor) are known to associate with anthropogenic environments, little research has been conducted examining the differences in raccoon diets across urban-wild gradients. The Florida Keys pr...
Article
Kangaroos (Macropus spp.), koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus), and Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) typically come to mind as the quintessential marsupials. Yet the first scientific description and study of marsupials came from Edward Tyson's dissection of a female Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) brought back to London from Virginia in...
Article
Full-text available
Managing wildlife populations in the face of global change requires regular data on the abundance and distribution of wild animals, but acquiring these over appropriate spatial scales in a sustainable way has proven challenging. Here we present the data from Snapshot USA 2020, a second annual national mammal survey of the locations across 103 array...
Article
Protected areas remain at the forefront of conservation action plans and are a critical management approach to sustain and restore global biodiversity. In their recent paper, Ferreira et al. (2020) present a compelling case that strict protected areas are essential for the conservation of large and threatened Neotropical mammals in the Brazilian Ce...
Article
Full-text available
Camera trap surveys use infrared-flash camera traps more frequently than white-flash camera traps due to claims that white-flash cameras impact animal behaviour and reduce capture rates. While several studies have examined the impact of white-flash on individual behaviour, few have assessed the effect of flash type on probability of detection. We u...
Article
Full-text available
Many ungulates are spotted as neonates. This trait is unique to individuals, making their identification feasible from remote cameras. Key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) are an endangered subspecies of white-tailed deer endemic to the lower Florida Keys, U.S.A. Habitat loss and hunting were historical drivers of population decline but recent...
Article
Full-text available
Species’ activity patterns are driven by the need to meet basic requirements of food, social interactions, movement, and rest, but often are influenced by a variety of biotic and abiotic factors. We used camera-trap data to describe and compare the activity patterns of the relatively poorly studied tayra (Eira barbara) across 10 populations distrib...
Article
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Urbanization is increasing globally, fragmenting habitats and prompting human–wildlife conflict. Urban wildlife research is concurrently expanding, but sampling methods are often biased towards large and intact habitats in public green spaces, neglecting the far more abundant, but degraded, habitats in the urban matrix. Here, we introduce the Five...
Article
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Article impact statement: Combining native and non‐native species to evaluate biodiversity is overly simplistic and may undermine the conservation of ecosystems.
Article
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Population density is a key parameter in conservation, but remains a challenging metric to obtain for rare and cryptic species. We designed a camera trap array targeting the elusive giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus), estimated densities using spatially explicit capture-recapture models, and compared these with estimates from a previous eight-yea...
Article
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Abstract Here we quantify the effects of artisanal fisheries on the ecology of a small cetacean, the Ganges River dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica, GRD), in a large river system of Nepal. We examine the size-classes of fisheries’ catches, behavioural changes in GRD in response to fishing activities, and diel overlap between GRD and fishing a...
Article
Urban heat islands affect animal behavior broadly, but their effects on food webs are less understood. In November 2018, camera trap serendipity led to the detection of a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) preying upon an eastern worm snake (Carphophis amoenus amoenus) in Washington, D.C. – a previously undescribed trophic interaction. While red-t...
Article
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Supplemental nests are often used to restore habitats for a variety of rare and endangered taxa. However, though they mimic the function of natural nests, they vary in design and construction material. We know from previous research on human buildings that these differences in architecture can alter the types of microbes to which inhabitants are ex...
Article
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Camera traps deployed in grids or stratified random designs are a well‐established survey tool for wildlife but there has been little evaluation of study design parameters. We used an empirical subsampling approach involving 2225 camera deployments run at 41 study areas around the world to evaluate three aspects of camera trap study design (number...
Article
Large mammalian herbivores are experiencing population reductions and range declines. However, we lack regional knowledge of population status for many herbivores, particularly in developing countries. Addressing this knowledge gap is key to implementing tailored conservation strategies for species whose population declines are highly variable acro...
Article
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Finding balance between the needs of people and wildlife is an essential component of planning sustainable landscapes. Because mammals make up a diverse and ecologically important taxon with varying responses to human disturbance, we used representative mammal species to examine how alternative land-use policies might affect their habitats and dist...
Article
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Tropical understory birds have declined due largely to habitat loss and fragmentation. Here, we revisited a study conducted three decades ago and used artificial nests to examine depredation rates in a Costa Rican biological corridor. Using camera trap data, we compared potential nest predator detection rates at experimental tinamou ground nests in...
Preprint
Full-text available
Supplemental nests are often used to restore habitats for a variety of rare and endangered taxa. However, though supplemental nests mimic the function of natural nests, they vary in design and building material. We know from previous research on human homes and other buildings that these differences in architecture can alter the types of microbes t...
Article
Full-text available
Worldwide, amphibian populations have been declining rapidly. This decline can be attributed to many factors including climate change, pesticide exposure, and emerging infectious diseases, among other important factors, but few studies have examined the influence of species interactions. In this study, we examined how habitat factors and co-occurri...
Article
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Species distribution models (SDMs) are statistical tools used to develop continuous predictions of species occurrence. ‘Integrated SDMs’ (ISDMs) are an elaboration of this approach with potential advantages that allow for the dual use of opportunistically collected presence-only data and site-occupancy data from planned surveys. These models also a...
Article
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While the conservation role of remaining natural habitats in anthropogenic landscapes is clear, the degree to which agricultural matrices impose limitations to animal use is not well understood, but vital to assess species’ resilience to land use change. Using an occupancy framework, we evaluated how oil palm plantations affect the occurrence and h...
Article
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The endangered Key Largo woodrat (Neotoma floridana smalli) is a packrat. Nights are spent making round trips between nests and distant foraging sites to gather sticks, seeds, and other decorative items to place inside or atop their nests. Interestingly, this stick- nest building behavior appears to be plastic (flexible). Surveys conducted as recen...
Article
Understanding the relationships between prey and their predators can provide important insights into evolution of defenses, foraging ecology, and functional roles within their ecosystem. Squamates (lizards and snakes) exhibit a wide range of morphological, ecological and behavioral variation and are model organisms for the study of the evolution of...
Article
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The Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri) is one of many endangered endemic species of the Florida Keys. The main threats are habitat loss and fragmentation from sea‐level rise, development, and habitat succession. Exotic predators such as free‐ranging domestic cats (Felis catus) pose an additional threat to these endangered small...
Article
Full-text available
Camera traps and radiotags commonly are used to estimate animal activity curves. However, little empirical evidence has been provided to validate whether they produce similar results. We compared activity curves from two common camera trapping techniques to those from radiotags with four species that varied substantially in size (~1 kg-~50 kg), die...
Article
Full-text available
Feral and free-ranging domestic cats (Felis catus) can have strong negative effects on small mammals and birds, particularly in island ecosystems. We deployed camera traps to study free-ranging cats in national wildlife refuges and state parks on Big Pine Key and Key Largo in the Florida Keys, USA, and used spatial capture–recapture models to estim...
Article
We test a new species distribution modelling (SDM) framework, while comparing results to more common distribution modelling techniques. This framework allows for the combination of presence-only (PO) and presence-absence (PA) data and accounts for imperfect detection and spatial bias in presence data. The new framework tested here is based on a Poi...
Article
Full-text available
Camera traps are commonly used to study mammal ecology and they occasionally capture previously undocumented species interactions. The key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) is an endangered endemic subspecies of the Florida Keys, where it exists with few predators. We obtained a camera trap sequence of 80 photos in which a key deer interacted w...
Data
Stable isotope data from free-ranging domestic cats and their potential prey in the Florida Keys.
Article
Full-text available
The Great Curassow (Crax rubra) is an endangered species in Costa Rica due to habitat loss and hunting pressure. Little is known about the spatial ecology of cracids and there is a need to assess their distribution to establish efficient conservation strategies. In this study, we integrated camera trapping data with occupancy models to examine land...
Thesis
Full-text available
Global biodiversity is being lost at catastrophic rates and this figure is substantially worse in island ecosystems and fragmented habitats. Several small mammals, including the Key Largo woodrat (Neotoma floridana smalli), Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri), and Key Largo cotton mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus allapaticola) are en...
Article
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Avian predators are often documented preying upon various herpetofauna, and passerines are no exception. Some families, such as Laniidae (shrikes; Chiu et al. 2011. Herpetol. Notes 4:87–89), possess specialized foraging behaviors (spearing with plant thorns) to subdue insects and small vertebrate prey. However, even dietary generalists such as the...
Article
Full-text available
The Key Largo woodrat (Neotoma floridana smalli) and Key Largo cotton mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus allapaticola) are federally endangered subspecies endemic to the tropical hardwood hammocks of Key Largo, Florida. Woodrats are considered generalists in habitat and diet, yet a steady decline in natural stick nests and capture rates over the past sev...
Article
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Mammalian carnivores play an important role in regulating food webs and ecosystems. While many carnivore populations are facing various threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and illegal trade, others have adapted to human-domi- nated landscapes. Information about Neotropical carnivore communities in particular is limited, especi...
Article
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With the extirpation of apex predators from many North American systems, coyotes Canis latrans have become the de facto top predator and are ubiquitous members of most ecosystems. Keystone predators aid in maintaining ecosystem function by regulating the mammal community through direct predation and instilling the landscape of fear, yet the value o...
Article
Full-text available
Conservation of the last remaining Ganges River dolphins Platanista gangetica gangetica in Nepal will require robust population estimates and better information on suitable habitat characteristics. To gain a better understanding of these parameters, we conducted boat-based surveys in the 3 major river systems (Karnali, Sapta Koshi, and Narayani) of...
Article
Full-text available
I dentifying species distributions is fundamental to understanding their ecology and guiding conservation and management strategies. We compiled 756 unique range-wide Baird's tapir (Tapirus bairdii) detections via camera trapping of track/sign surveys in eight countries. We then estimated the distribution of suitable tapir habitat within a Maxent-m...
Article
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The Snapping Turtle, Chelydra serpentina (Linnaeus 1758), is native to North America, from southeastern Canada, along the southwestern edge of the Rocky Mountains and throughout the eastern United States (Ernst and Lovich 2009). Although C. serpentina has been observed and studied throughout peninsular Florida, it has never been recorded in the Flo...
Article
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Ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) and other wild cats are often surveyed using camera traps to identify individuals for density estimation via capture-recapture analyses or estimate occupancy via detection/non-detection analyses. Though attractants are sometimes used in such surveys, there have not been any evaluations of the effectiveness of common vis...
Article
Full-text available
We used camera traps to survey 38 forested sites in the San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor, northern Costa Rica. From our survey, we obtained photographs of 62 individuals of the Great Currassow (Crax rubra), 34 of which were females. Among those females, we identified two of the three different morphs existing within this species, the dark mo...
Article
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Loss of large mammalian carnivores may allow smaller mesopredators to become abundant and threaten other community members. There is considerable debate about mesopredator release and the role that other potential factors such as land-scape variables and human alterations to land cover lead to increased mesopredator abundance. We used camera traps...
Preprint
Full-text available
Camera traps are commonly used for mammal surveys and many recent studies have published variable trap success rates. All published reports have focused survey efforts in protected areas or large contiguous forests, but we used camera traps in a highly altered suburban landscape. We selected 22 camera trap sites in Warrensburg and Lee’s Summit, Mis...
Article
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Baird's tapir Tapirus bairdii is categorized as Endangered on the IUCN Red List and is considered rare and locally extirpated from most of its historic range in Costa Rica. We conducted camera-trap and track surveys at 38 forested sites in and around the San Juan–La Selva Biological Corridor in the Northern Zone of Costa Rica. Cameras were set alon...