The Road Less Traveled

Associate professor of biology Leann Kanda and her students are using motion-sensor cameras to research how wild animals use the recreational trails in the Ithaca College Natural Lands.

It might surprise you to know that, while we sleep, wild animals are using the same trails that we use during the day to hike, run, or walk our dogs. And associate professor Leann Kanda's research has shown us just what has been happening. As seen in this time lapse video, animals like deer, turkeys, and foxes travel along the same routes cleared by humans. You may even see a coyote, but don't blink or you'll miss it. 

Kanda's students deploy motion-sensor cameras — the same kind used by hunters — to capture the movement of these animals day or night. They typically leave the cameras out for two weeks before retrieving them and reviewing the images.

Kanda has presented her research in "The Road Less Traveled: Even Recreational Trails Alter Wildlife Movement" at the International Mammalogical Congress in Belfast, Ireland. She found that canids, like foxes and coyotes, are more likely to travel by these paths than small rodents because the latter are prey and seek more ground cover for camouflage. 

Kanda has a number of other research projects going on during the school year and over the summer, many of them involving hamster behavior.

Read more about what goes on in the IC Natural Lands.