Happy Spring! the Snapshot Wisconsin team in spending the month of May bopping around the upper Midwest for trainings, fieldwork and conferences, oh my! We’ve been checking in on Zooniverse from the road, but we apologize if we’ve been less responsive than usual this season. Here are some highlights:
New elk cameras!
A new cohort of elk will be released into the Flambeau River State Forest (FRSF) in Sawyer County this summer (south of the existing Clam Lake herd). The Snapshot Team traveled to FRSF to train volunteers who will be hosting cameras in this new area. We also got to tromp through the woods ourselves to put up some of the cameras, and came across lots of animal sign, wildflowers and other indications that spring has sprung.
Citizen Science Association conference
We learned a lot about the field of citizen science at the Citizen Science Association conference in St. Paul, Minnesota last week. At our tabling session we met all kinds of wonderful people managing citizen science projects, including other trail camera projects. It was wonderful to hear about all the fantastic work going on in citizen science, and we came home with a list of ideas on how to improve our own project. Team member Christine Anhalt-Depies gave a great talk about what motivates our trail camera hosts to participate in Snapshot Wisconsin.
New counties, new trainings!
This month, we’re providing trainings for our trail camera hosts in St. Croix, Oneida and Marinette counties. Stay tuned for 6 new counties opening for enrollment in the next couple weeks!
This Friday, May 19, Christine, Christina and Susan will represent Snapshot Wisconsin at a Night in the Cloud in St. Paul, Minnesota. For those of you in the Twin Cities area, come down and learn about 100+ hands-on projects & see a screening of “The Crowd and the Cloud.” We’d love to see you!
Thanks to a dedicated effort by our volunteers, Wisconsin DNR staff and University of Wisconsin students, we were able to classify all of the elk photos from 2016!
This Science Update features data from the Clam Lake elk area only, due to a lack of elk photos from the Black River Falls area. From GPS collar information, we know that many of the Black River Falls elk prefer to hang out outside of our camera area (perhaps they are bashful?). When we have more Snapshot Wisconsin cameras in the counties surrounding Black River Falls, we hope to have enough data for a Science Update on those elk as well.
There were 120 cameras active in the Clam Lake area in 2016, capturing 3,996 triggers containing elk. After grouping consecutive triggers showing the same elk, we ended up with 305 unique elk events.
We graphed daily activity patterns of antlerless elk and bulls from the 305 unique elk events. Overall, elk were most active between 6 and 9 AM and 5 and 6 PM. Antlerless elk were most active around dawn and dusk, while bull activity peaked later in the morning and evening.
We also graphed monthly elk activity throughout 2016. Because not all of our cameras were active during the entire year, we corrected photo hit rate based on the percentage of cameras active each week. The image below shows this corrected photo count for antlerless elk and bull elk throughout 2016.
The marked spike in bull activity at weeks 36 through 40 indicates the annual rut period. That period corresponds to a sharp drop off in activity level for antlerless elk; cows tend to stay put during that period while bulls move around more. (Curious about why this might be? Click here for more information on elk life history and mating behavior.) The trail cameras give us the ability to pinpoint the time frame of the rut period more precisely than we were previously able.