Diel activity patterns of urban Woodchucks (Marmota monax) revealed by camera traps at burrows in southwestern Ontario, Canada





Burrow, circadian, daily activity, diel activity, trail camera, marmot


Animals display a range of diurnal and nocturnal activity patterns and, among mammals, a high proportion of species are crepuscular or nocturnal. Daily activities are often endogenous and oscillate on a light:dark regime. Such cycles are referred to as ‘circadian’ and are generally influenced by biotic and abiotic factors. I investigated the daily activity of urban Woodchucks (Marmota monax) by using 24-hour camera traps at backyard burrows in London, Ontario, Canada, in June. Cameras enabled the collection of data that would otherwise have been labour intensive by direct observation. Statistical modelling showed that Woodchucks exhibited a strictly diurnal activity pattern. The unimodal activity pattern started at sunrise and ended before sunset. The general daily activity trend was similar to the pattern described by others who used direct observations and telemetry to monitor Woodchucks in more rural settings. Temperature and wind were not included in the best-fit model. Camera trapping is a non-invasive method that could give insight to diel activity as it can easily monitor extended periods and reduce the effort required by direct observation.