This second post in our series on careers in natural resources. Last time we featured careers in human dimensions of natural resources. This time, we’re talking about spatial analysis and its role in natural resource management.
Spatial analysts work with any kind of data that can be represented spatially: roads, lakes, land use/landcover, weather systems, landmarks, demographics, and many many more. They use tools like Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to visualize data and create maps to show relationships among variables.
In natural resource fields, we can use GIS to, among many other things, map suitable habitat for different species, plot animal movements using GPS collar data, and create species distribution maps. Using spatial analyses we can answer questions like: “Are black bears attracted to areas with higher or lower human population density?” “Are sandhill cranes more commonly found near wetlands or near corn fields?” “Where do the habitat ranges of red fox and gray fox overlap?” “Is the range of fishers expanding southward?”
For Snaphshot Wisconsin, we’ve used GIS to make preliminary maps of animal presence in certain localized areas. A possible next step is to test correlations between animal presence and environmental variables to find out more about why animals go where they go. We hope that once the project is rolled out statewide we will be able to ask these types of questions for the whole state!
The Snapshot Wisconsin team was in Milwaukee the last few days attending the Annual Meeting of the Wisconsin Chapter of The Wildlife Society.
This event was a great opportunity to learn about research being done throughout Wisconsin as well as other parts of the world. We attended talks about new methods to estimate deer recruitment in Wisconsin; carnivore detection and abundance in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore; climbing behavior of Gray Fox; and the Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring Network just to name a few. We are hoping to be able to have some guest posts on the blog about other camera trap research projects in the future.
John gave a presentation entitled “Validation of crowd-sourced trail camera image classifications” which had some great information about classification accuracy of Zooniverse volunteers as compared to expert classifications. Christina’s presentation was “Snapshot Wisconsin: Updates from our first year of volunteer-based wildlife monitoring with trail cameras”. Susan focused on the elk monitoring project with a presentation called “Using Cameras and Volunteers to Monitor Elk Reintroduction in Wisconsin”.
The conference was also a great opportunity to socialize with colleagues from other parts of Wisconsin and see a bit of downtown Milwaukee.