Archive | July 2018

New Blog Series: Non-Invasive Surveying Methods

From the Snapshot Wisconsin program, you may be familiar with wildlife monitoring using trail cameras. Trail cameras are one wildlife monitoring tool classified into a group of monitoring techniques that are considered non-invasive, meaning that the technique causes little or no impact on the animal’s normal activity, ecology or physiology. By contrast, invasive monitoring techniques include any type of wildlife monitoring that has a direct, human caused impact on an animal (GPS collaring, tagging, close observation are a few examples). In this blog post series, we are going to highlight other non-invasive monitoring methods and include ways you can get involved in these types of non-invasive monitoring! Our first post on non-invasive monitoring is focused on.. tracking!

Tracking

A gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) left tracks on a piece of paper that utilized bait and a track plate to collect non-invasive information such as species and occupancy.

Tracking involves locating animal footprints and identifying the species. This monitoring technique can be done during all times of year in snow, mud, dirt or sand. You can learn a lot about an animal by its tracks. For example, you can tell what gait the animal was in (walk, trot, lope, spring), where it was heading to and from and if the animal was travelling in a group or alone.

Taking accurate measurements of tracks can help ID an animal. If you don’t have a ruler, use your foot or hand for size reference for identification later. This was taken by Taylor Peltier, from the Snaspshot Wisconsin team. Any guess who it belongs to?

Researchers can use tracks to estimate abundance, home ranges and behavior patterns. This can be especially helpful for monitoring more elusive animals that are sensitive to human disturbance.

One research project that uses tracks to estimate abundance is the Wisconsin winter wolf count. Using tracks in the snow, the DNR can estimate a minimum wolf count. For more information about that project, check out this link.

Stay tuned for more non-invasive survey method blog posts! Upcoming will be a post featuring how scat, hair and even eDNA play a role in wildlife research.

 

Advertisements

July #SuperSnap

July’s #SuperSnap features a mother opossum, called a jill, carrying her babies, called joeys, on her back! Joeys are quite small when they are born, only about the size of jelly beans (source). The joeys continue to develop in their mother’s pouch until they are large enough to ride along on her back, as we see here. Thank you to @enog for nominating this series!

Continue classifying photos on Zooniverse and hashtagging your favorites for a chance to be featured in the next #SuperSnap blog post. Check out all of the nominations by searching “#SuperSnap” on the Snapshot Wisconsin Talk boards.

Snapshot Saturday: July 28th, 2018

Did you know fawns have an average of nearly 300 spots? Check out some of our favorite White-tail Deer fawns captured on Snapshot Wisconsin’s cameras!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Interested in hosting your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera? Visit our webpage to find out how to get involved: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/snapshot/. Classify photos from all the trail cameras at www.snapshotwisconsin.org.

Snapshot Wisconsin: Behind the Scenes

While Snapshot Wisconsin’s volunteers are busy deploying trail cameras, uploading photos, and classifying wildlife on Zooniverse – what on Earth is there left for the staff to do? Well, with over one thousand project volunteers, there’s quite a bit that must go on behind the scenes as well! From prepping equipment, to answering volunteer questions, to getting lost in the woods (only sometimes) – no two days look the same. This blog post will give you a “snapshot” into life behind the scenes for staff members.

A lot of time is spent preparing equipment. Every camera needs specialized software and labels, SD cards, batteries, a charger, a camera mount and snazzy bag to hold it all together. Equipment needs to be recorded in a database, and frequently stocked up on for incoming volunteers! Some weeks staff members are sending upwards of 30 equipment kits to newly enrolled volunteers who have completed training.

IMG_8488

For technical difficulties, malfunctioning equipment or general questions, staff members are only a phone call or email away! Problem solving skills are a must for the Snapshot Wisconsin team. Rock star staff member Vivek can frequently be spotted answering volunteer calls while simultaneously working to maintain the Snapshot Wisconsin database, with over 22 million photos this can be a full time job in itself.

IMG_7528

One of our favorite “behind the scenes” task involves exploring pieces of the state where the staff can witness some Wisconsin wildlife first hand, and interact with the project volunteers. Staff members are constantly kept on their toes with a wide variety of assignments; other daily tasks range from creating lesson plans, to manipulating data, to writing outreach content (example here!) As busy as we can be kept, we all greatly enjoy the work and have such an immense appreciation for our volunteers that keep the project running! Thank you!

Snapshot Saturday: July 21st, 2018

Happy Snapshot Saturday featuring this playful bear and cub duo from Marinette County last July.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Interested in hosting your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera? Visit our webpage to find out how to get involved: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/snapshot/. Classify photos from all the trail cameras at www.snapshotwisconsin.org.

Migratory Birds

As we proceed through Wisconsin’s four seasons each year, you may appreciate the sight of colorful songbirds in springtime and notice the distinctive V-shape formation of Canada Geese as they fly south in the fall. These species are referred to as “migratory birds”, or populations of birds that travel from one place to another at regular times during the year.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Why do birds migrate?

Birds migrate in search of resources needed for their survival. Migratory birds primarily pursue sources of food or nesting locations to raise their young. In Wisconsin, we see an influx of bird species in springtime as warm weather returns and insect populations increase. As temperatures begin to drop in the fall, food supply dwindles and the birds fly south.

How do birds migrate?

Scientists believe there are many factors that trigger the migration of bird populations. Birds respond to changes in their environment such as day length, temperature, and availability of food resources. Additionally many birds go through hormonal changes with the arrival of new seasons. These hormonal shifts may affect your caged birds at home, you may recognize restless behavior in spring and fall. This restlessness around migratory periods is referred to as zugunruhe.

It isn’t fully understood how birds have developed such impressive navigation skills, but there are several factors that guide them. Birds can use directional information using the sun, stars, and even earth’s magnetic field. Landmarks, position of the setting sun, and even smell plays a role for various species.

How do scientists study migratory birds?

Several methods have been developed to track and study migratory birds including banding, satellite tracking, and by attaching geolocators to individuals. At Snapshot Wisconsin, trail cameras are now being added to the list of tools! Using preliminary data gathered from Zooniverse, the below slideshow shows the detections of Sandhill Cranes on Snapshot Wisconsin cameras throughout the year. The study of migration can be immensely beneficial for conservation efforts by pinpointing wintering and nesting locations to monitor potentially threatened or endangered populations.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sources:

Snapshot Saturday: July 14th, 2018

Owls rarely make appearances on Snapshot Wisconsin cameras, but they sure know how to make it memorable when they do! Check out this Short-eared Owl captured on a camera at the Buena Vista Wildlife Area in Portage County. M2E66L193-193R399B413

Interested in hosting your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera? Visit our webpage to find out how to get involved: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/snapshot/. Classify photos from all the trail cameras at www.snapshotwisconsin.org.

International Symposium on Society and Resource Management

As a graduate student, conferences are an opportunity for me to share my research and connect with others doing similar work.  Recently I had the opportunity to travel to beautiful Utah for the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management.  This conference brings together scientists and practitioners to share research on the interaction between society and natural resources.

I learned about many innovative research efforts – a study aiming at making camping  more sustainable by decreasing the impact on the natural environment (Marion et al.) and another that used survey data to understand what sources of scientific information were most trusted by the public (Schuster et al.).

Some of my favorite sessions were workshops I attended on how to be a better collaborator and communicate with journalists. I also had the opportunity to present some of my research on volunteer’s experiences participating in Snapshot Wisconsin (stay tuned to find out more!)

Of course the views weren’t shabby either. Now back to data analysis and writing!

 

 

Snapshot Saturday: July 7th, 2018

Known for their playful behaviors, this Snapshot Saturday series features a North American River Otter captured on a trail camera in Vernon County.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Interested in hosting your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera? Visit our webpage to find out how to get involved: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/snapshot/. Classify photos from all the trail cameras at www.snapshotwisconsin.org.

June #SuperSnap

What better way to kick off Snapshot Wisconsin’s Season 9 than with our state animal, the American Badger (Taxidea taxus)! Thank you to Crazylikeafox and gardenmaeve for nominating this series captured on a Jackson County camera last summer.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Continue classifying photos on Zooniverse and hashtagging your favorites for a chance to be featured in the next #SuperSnap blog post. Check out all of the nominations by searching “#SuperSnap” on the Snapshot Wisconsin Talk boards.