Camera trap data reveals the habitat use and activity patterns of a secretive forest bird, Sri Lanka Spurfowl Galloperdix bicalcarata


  • Sanjaya Chathuranga Dharmarathne Department of Zoology, Faculty of Applied Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka
  • EGDP Jayasekara Department of Zoology, Faculty of Applied Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka
  • Dharshani Mahaulpatha Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka
  • Kusal de Silva Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka



Ground dwelling birds, Phasianidae, habitat use, Camera trapping, Conservation, Occupancy modeling


The use of remotely triggered cameras for studies of bird ecology is uncommon. We used camera trap data from a survey conducted from January 2018 to April 2021, to analyze the habitat use and activity patterns of Sri Lanka Spurfowl Galloperdix bicalcarata which is known as a shy and secretive forest bird endemic to Sri Lanka. Study sites included protected areas situated in dry, wet, and montane zones of the island. Camera traps were placed representatively in the main habitat types of each study site. A total of 104 independent captures of G. bicalcarata were recorded during the study.  The highest occupancy was recorded at Sinharaja National Heritage Wilderness Area followed by cloud forests of Horton Plains national park and dry-mixed evergreen forests of Maduru Oya National Park. The activity of G. bicalcarata was highly diurnal and activity levels ranged from 0.250-0.398 at the study sites. Activity peaks of G. bicalcarata occurred in the morning between 0700-1100h. We identified canopy cover, litter cover, litter depth, NDVI as the covariates that positively influenced the habitat occupancy of spurfowl while thick undergrowth and rocky outcrops reduced the occupancy. The findings of this study will be useful for the conservation and management decisions on Sri Lanka's spurfowl and habitats that are vital for its survival.


BirdLife International. (2020) Species factsheet: Galloperdix bicalcarata.Downloaded from on 13/10/2020.Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds.Downloaded from on 13/10/2020.

Bollinger, E. K., & Switzer, P. V. (2002).Modeling the impact of edge avoidance on avian nest densities in habitat fragments. Ecological Applications, 12(6), 1567-1575.[1567:MTIOEA]2.0.CO;2

Chen, M. T., Tewes, M. E., Pei, K. J., & Grassman, L. I. (2009).Activity patterns and habitat use of sympatric small carnivores in southern Taiwan. Mammalia, 73(1), 20-26.

Cooch, E., & White, G. (2005). Program MARK: A gentle introduction. (5th edition),

De Silva, A. (2007). The Diversity of Horton Plains National Park: With Special Reference to its Herpetofauna and Including A Bibliography on the Literature on Horton Plains. VijithaYapa publications.

De Zoysa N, Raheem R. (1990). Sinharaja, a rain forest in Sri Lanka. March for Conservation.

Dittus, W.P.J. (2017). The biogeography and ecology of Sri Lankan mammals point to conservation priorities. Ceylon Journal of Science, 46(Special Issue), 33-64.

Fuller, R.A., & Garson, P.J. (2000). Pheasants: status survey and conservation action plan 2000-2004. IUCN.

Gallery, R.E. (2014). Ecology of Tropical Rain Forests. Ecology and the Environment. New York: Springer.

Garrote, G., Perez de Ayala, R., Pereira, P., Robles, F., Guzman, N., Garcia, F.J., Iglesias, M.C., Hervas, J., Fajardo, I., Simon, M., Barroso, J.L. (2011) Estimation of the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) population in the Doana area, SW Spain, using capture-recapture analysis of camera-trapping data. European Journal of Wildlife Research 57 (2): 355-362.

Green, M.J. (1990), editor. IUCN directory of South Asian protected areas. IUCN.

Gunatilleke, C.V., Gunatilleke, I.A. (1986). Horton Plains: some aspects of its vegetation and ecology. Sri Lanka Wildlife.;3(4):9-11.

Haegen, W. M. V., Dobler, F. C., & Pierce, D. J. (2000).Shrubsteppe bird response to habitat and landscape variables in eastern Washington, USA. Conservation Biology, 14(4), 1145-1160.

Higgins, K. F. (1996). Vegetation sampling and measurement. Research and management techniques for wildlife and habitats, 567-591.

IBAs in Sri International. Retrieved 6 December 2009.

Janečka, J. E., Munkhtsog, B., Jackson, R. M., Naranbaatar, G., Mallon, D. P., & Murphy, W. J. (2011). Comparison of noninvasive genetic and camera-trapping techniques for surveying snow leopards. Journal of Mammalogy, 92(4), 771-783.

Jayasekara, D., Kumara, P.K.P.M.P & Mahaulpatha, W.A.D. (2021). Mapping the vegetation cover and habitat categorization of Maduru Oya and Horton Plains National Parks using Landsat 8 (Oli) imagery to assist the ecological studies. Wildlanka, 9(1): 122-135.

Luo, G., Yang, C., Zhou, H., Seitz, M., Wu, Y., & Ran, J. (2019). Habitat use and diel activity pattern of the Tibetan Snowcock (Tetraogallus tibetanus): a case study using camera traps for surveying high-elevation bird species. Avian Research, 10(1), 1-9.

MacKenzie, D.I., Nichols, J.D., Lachman, G.B., Droege, S., Royle, A.J. & Langtimm, C.A. (2002). Estimating site occupancy rates when detection probabilities are less than one. Ecology, 83(8), 2248-2255.

McIntyre, S., & Hobbs, R. (1999).A framework for conceptualizing human effects on landscapes and its relevance to management and research models. Conservation biology, 13(6), 1282-1292.

Meredith, M. & Ridout, M. (2014). Overview of the overlap package. R. Proj, 1-9

Murphy, A. J., Farris, Z. J., Karpanty, S., Kelly, M. J., Miles, K. A., Ratelolahy, F & Golden, C. D. (2018). Using camera traps to examine distribution and occupancy trends of ground-dwelling rainforest birds in north-eastern Madagascar. Bird Conservation International, 28(4), 567-580. Htpp:doi:10.1017/S0959270917000107

Niedballa, J., Sollmann, R., Courtiol, A., & Wilting, A. (2016). Camtrap R: an R package for efficient camera trap data management. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 7(12), 1457-1462.

O'Brien, T. G., & Kinnaird, M. F. (2008). A picture is worth a thousand words: the application of camera trapping to the study of birds. Bird Conservation International, 18(S1), S144-S162.

Otis, D.L., Burnham, K.P., White, G.C. & Anderson, D.R. (1978). Statistical inference from capture data on closed animal populations. Wildlife Monographs, 62(3- 135).

Pollock, K. H., Nichols, J. D., Simons, T. R., Farnsworth, G. L., Bailey, L. L., & Sauer, J. R. (2002). Large scale wildlife monitoring studies: statistical methods for design and analysis. Environmetrics: The official journal of the International Environmetrics Society, 13(2), 105-119.

Ramesh, T., & Downs, C. T. (2014). Land use factors determining occurrence of Red-necked Spurfowl (Pternistis afer) in the Drakensberg Midlands, South Africa. Journal of Ornithology, 155(2), 471-480. 10.1007/s10336-013-1028-2

Ridout, M.S. & Linkie, M. (2009). Estimating overlap of daily activity patterns from camera trap data. Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics, 14(3), 322-337.

Rowcliffe, J.M. (2019). activity: Animal activity statistics. R package version 1.3.

Rowcliffe, J.M., Jansen, P.A., Kays, R., Kranstauber, B. & Carbone, C. (2016). Wildlife speed cameras: measuring animal travel speed and day range using camera traps. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation, 2(2), 84-94.

Rowcliffe, J.M., Kays, R., Kranstauber, B., Carbone, C. & Jansen, P.A. (2014). Quantifying levels of animal activity using camera trap data. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 5(11), 1170-1179.

Royle, J.A. & Nichols, J.D. (2003). Estimating abundance from repeated presenceabsence data or point counts. Ecology, 84, 777-790.

UNESCO World Heritage."Sinharaja Forest Reserve".UNESCO World Heritage Centre.Retrieved 2020-08-17.

Wijesinghe, L. D. S., Gunatilleke, I. A. U. N., Jayawardene, S. D. J., Kotagama, S. W., & Gunatilleke, C. V. S. (1993). Biological conservation in Sri Lanka: A national status report. IUCN, Sri Lanka, 100pp.

Wijeyeratne, G.D.S., Warakagoda, D. & De Silva, T.S.U. (2007). A photographic guide to Birds of Sri Lanka.London, UK., New Holland Publishers.

Wintle, B.A., McCarthy, M.A., Volinsky, C.T. & Kavanagh, R.P. (2003). The use of Bayesian model averaging to better represent uncertainty in ecological models. Conservation Biology, 17(6), 1579-1590.

Znidersic, E. (2017). Camera traps are an effective tool for monitoring Lewin's Rail (Lewiniapectoralis brachipus). Waterbirds, 40(4), 417-422.




How to Cite

Chathuranga Dharmarathne, S. ., Jayasekara, E. ., Mahaulpatha, D. ., & de Silva, K. . (2022). Camera trap data reveals the habitat use and activity patterns of a secretive forest bird, Sri Lanka Spurfowl Galloperdix bicalcarata. Journal of Wildlife and Biodiversity, 6(Suppl. 1), 100–118.