Archive | December 2018

December #SuperSnap

Can you guess who took the spot light for our December #SuperSnap? That “bobbed” tail may give it away!

The December #SuperSnap, nominated by @AUK, goes to a bobcat (Lynx rufus) from Jackson County. Often confused with their larger cousins, the Canada Lynx, bobcats can be distinguished by their short tail, tufted ears and white underbelly. They are the most abundant wildcat found in the United States, so keep an eye out for bobcats on your trail cameras!

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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.

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Snapshot Saturday: December 29th, 2018

An impressive bull elk captured on a Snapshot Wisconsin camera in the Flambeau River State Forest. Happy Snapshot Saturday!

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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 Saturday: December 22nd, 2018

This Snapshot Saturday features not one, but TWO bustling badgers captured on a Snapshot Wisconsin camera in Lafayette County!

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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.

Celebrate the Solstice with Snapshot Wisconsin

“Hoppy” Holidays from the Snapshot Wisconsin team!M2E59L175-175R399B388

 

Opossums – The Creatures You Didn’t Know Were Interesting.

One of the most incredible things about studying wildlife is that, no matter how much you think you know, something new and surprising will appear. Recently, I had the opportunity to review thousands of photos for an exciting project involving machine learning (which you can read more about in this blog post). A subset of the photos on my plate for review were of Virginia opossums (Didelphis virginiana).

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An opossum caught on a Snapshot Wisconsin camera that appears to be carrying young in its pouch.

Some might not draw a line between the words “exciting project” and “opossum,” but they truly are an interesting species.  For starters, they are North America’s only marsupial, meaning females carry their offspring in a pouch, especially when the young are newly born (see the photo above).  Additionally, those of us who live where ticks are a concern can thank opossums for consuming a fair number of these pests.

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Snapshot Wisconsin images of opossums with varying coat colors.

The first thing I learned about opossums from my time examining the photos is that they can vary widely in color.  Above is a small collage of opossums that range in color from almost entirely white (known as leucism) to predominantly dark grey, although the animal pictured in the middle is more representative of Wisconsin’s majority.

Morphology, or the set of physical characteristics an animal displays, is not easily disguised in trail camera photos when compared to something fleeting, like behavior.  Often, animals captured in the photos simply appear to be moving across the frame.  This expectation is what led me originally to overlook a fascinating opossum behavior.  As I flipped through the images, I noticed an infrared trigger in which the animal seemed to have debris stuck to its rear half.  I imagined that it had gotten stuck in mud, but when I saw the phenomenon a second time – this time in daylight – I realized that this was no accident.  In fact, these opossums were using their prehensile tails intentionally to carry bunches of leaves and twigs.

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A Snapshot Wisconsin opossum using its prehensile tail to transport a collection of leaves and twigs.

After doing some research on this behavior, I discovered that this has been documented before, albeit rarely.  The consensus on the reason for this behavior is that opossums take their hauls to a temporary den site to use as bedding material.  Of the over 3,000 opossum triggers that I was sorting, I only encountered nine in which this behavior was displayed.  If I were to randomly choose a photo from the set, I would be more than twice as likely to encounter a raccoon misclassified as an opossum than I would be to have selected a photo of an opossum carrying leaves with its tail.  Nine instances do not constitute a large enough sample size to do any major analyses.  However, according to this photo set, there does not seem to be any obvious seasonality, with photos spread somewhat evenly from January 2017 through June 2018.  Only one trigger was taken during the daytime – likely a product of opossums being primarily nocturnal.

If you stumble upon any interesting Snapshot photos – opossums or otherwise – please reach out to us.  You can share them by using the “Talk” function on Zooniverse or by emailing them to DNRSnapshotWisconsin@wisconsin.gov.

 

Snapshot Saturday: December 15th, 2018

Do you know that feeling you get when your nap is interrupted? Check out this interesting interaction captured between a doe and raccoon on a Snapshot Wisconsin camera.

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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.

Thank you for Season 10!

thank youThanks all for another terrific season on Snapshot Wisconsin!  I can’t believe Season 10 of the project has come and gone.  As some of you may have noticed, this season was special, not just because it was our 10th, but it also looked a little different than past seasons.

This season a random selection of our volunteers had the option to work through a series of levels where they were asked not only about the wildlife in the photo, but also about the habitat seen in the photo (e.g. how much snow or green vegetation there was in the photo).  The data contributed by these volunteers produced valuable information that will help us to better understand the relationship between Wisconsin animals and the habitat where they live.  Several recent blog posts have highlighted why this relationship is so important (see here, here, and here if you missed the posts!)

Why did only some volunteers see the levels?

The addition of levels was a big departure from how our Snapshot Wisconsin website has been formatted.  We wanted to carefully examine how this modified experience affects volunteer behavior, learning, and connection to the community. Only a portion of users got to see the experimental site, so we can accurately assess it.  This test is actually part of my research as a PhD student on the Snapshot Wisconsin project.

As team member on Snapshot Wisconsin, my role is to understand the people side of citizen science.  I ask questions like: Why do volunteers get involved in citizen science?  What do volunteers take away from participating?  My goal is to provide feedback that can improve volunteer experience and the science that our project produces.  This season is just one part of that effort.

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White-tailed deer in snow

What are the next steps?

Right now, I’m busy looking at the results of this season. In the near future, Snapshot Wisconsin will return to its normal look.  Whether or not people responded positively to the levels will affect whether the Snapshot Wisconsin Team decides to use the levels during some future seasons.  When I have results to share, we’ll be sure to link to them on the Talk boards and this blog.

How can you help?

One way we’ll assess how volunteers responded to the levels is by looking at how many classifications they completed.  We also want to hear from you directly–regardless of whether or not you had access to the levels.  Snapshot Wisconsin volunteers will receive an email from Zooniverse asking them to complete a survey about their experience this past season.  Your responses are essential in helping us to evaluate Season 10.

What will happen with the photos that have not yet been retired from Season 10?

A handful of photos were not retired before Season 10 ended.  While Season 11 is running, we’ll be busy doing some analysis of the photos to see which need more classifications. We’ll then re-post these photos in Season 12 and beyond.

If you have questions don’t hesitate to reach out to me via private message on Zoonvierse (@anhaltcm) or on the comments here!  On behalf of the whole team, thank you again for Season 10!

Snapshot Saturday: December 8th, 2018

This Snapshot Saturday features a beautiful Red-tailed hawk sharing a glimpse of where their name comes from!

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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.

December Volunteer of the Month

December’s Volunteers of the Month are
Colleen and Jerry from Ashland County!

December’s Volunteer of the Month goes to Colleen and Jerry from Ashland County! The duo moved up to the Clam Lake area in the early 2000’s to build their log cabin, and love everything connected to the Northwoods. Both Colleen and Jerry work at the local gas station, the Clam Lake Junction, which keeps them grounded and connected to their small community – they even put up a pickleball court there!

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Colleen and Jerry were some of the very first volunteers to get involved monitoring Snapshot Wisconsin cameras in the Clam Lake elk reintroduction area. Colleen shared that they joined to project because it was something they could do together, and gave them an opportunity to further explore the area. The two have since played a key role in keeping up with the elk herd.

Thank you, Colleen and Jerry! Thank you to all our trail camera hosts and Zooniverse volunteers for helping us discover our wildlife together.

Snapshot Saturday: December 1st, 2018

Check out these two leucistic bucks recently captured on a Snapshot Wisconsin camera! Happy Snapshot Saturday!

SnapshotSaturday_12.1.18Interested 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.