Archive | March 2019

March Science Update: Greater-Prairie Chicken Lek Monitoring

One of Snapshot Wisconsin’s major goals is to alleviate some of the burden associated with time-consuming in-person survey techniques. This is possible because trail cameras can serve as round-the-clock observers in all weather conditions. Annual Greater Prairie-Chicken lekking (breeding) surveys were identified as having good potential to be supplemented by Snapshot Wisconsin cameras, and a pilot study was conducted in spring 2018.

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The Greater Prairie-Chicken (GPC) is a large grouse species native to grassland regions of central Wisconsin. During the breeding season each spring, males compete for female attention by creating a booming noise and displaying their specialized feathers and air sacks.  This ritual occurs on patches of land known as leks, as seen in the photo above. Wisconsin DNR Wildlife Management staff identify leks in the early spring and return to each site twice in the season to count the number of booming males. The number of males present on the leks is used as an index to population size. Three Snapshot Wisconsin cameras were deployed on each of five leks – one camera facing each direction except for east to reduce the number of photos triggered by the rising sun. The cameras were deployed from late March through mid-May, and all in-person surveying was conducted within the same period.

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As seen in the graph above, Snapshot Wisconsin trail cameras recorded male GPC at all five of the study sites. This is significant because GPC were only detected on three of the five leks according to the in-person surveys. On leks A, B, and D, where both in-person and camera surveying detected GPC, the in-person maximum of male GPC was higher. However, when the trail camera maximum is averaged across all survey days, the maximum is nearly the same for both survey methods (8.5 in-person, 8.3 trail camera).

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In-person surveying requires the observers to arrive before dawn and remain in the blind until after the early morning booming has finished. Snapshot Wisconsin cameras record the hourly activity on the lek while minimizing the risk of disturbance due to human presence. The graph above displays the total number of male GPC photos captured by hour and shows a small uptick in photos around 7 p.m. Because the in-person surveys do not include evening observations, Snapshot Wisconsin data offer a way to examine the lek activity at all hours.

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Additionally, continuous data collection is not only useful in capturing the activity of GPC, but offers insight into the dynamics of Wisconsin’s grassland ecosystems. In total, Snapshot Wisconsin cameras collected over 3,000 animal images including badger, coyote, deer, other bird species, and more.  Some photos were even a little surprising.  Pictured above is a coyote just feet away from prairie chicken. We might expect the GPC to flee in the presence of a predator, but this one appears to be standing its ground. In the upcoming pilot year two, we hope to gather even more information about the interactions within and among species found on these leks.

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Snapshot Saturday: March 16th, 2019

As the song goes, “one of these things is not like the other.” Check out this shot captured on a Racine County Snapshot Wisconsin trail camera!

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Did you know you can view and classify photos collected from Snapshot Wisconsin cameras across the state at www.SnapshotWisconsin.org? It’s a fun activity for the whole family!

What Wisconsin Animal Are You?

Some of us like to stay up late and others prefer to snooze, you might be a homebody or always on the move…in case you didn’t realize – animals are the same way too!

Have you ever wondered what Wisconsin animal best embodies your habits?  Now is your chance to find out!  Take our quiz to find out what Wisconsin animal you are.

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This quiz was developed by Sarah Cameron, Christine Anhalt-Depies, and Ally Magnin of the Snapshot Wisconsin Team. 

Snapshot Saturday: March 9th, 2019

White-tailed deer represent nearly 2/3rds of the wildlife captured on Snapshot Wisconsin trail cameras, ones caught with their tongues out represent a disappointingly lower proportion. 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: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/snapshot/.

March Volunteer of the Month

March’s Volunteer of the Month is
Melanie and Trees For Tomorrow from Vilas County!

March’s Volunteer of the Month goes to Melanie and the Trees For Tomorrow staff in Vilas County! Trees For Tomorrow (TFT) is a nonprofit natural resources specialty school in Eagle River, WI whose mission is to promote sustainable management of our natural resources through transformative educational experiences. TFT’s field-based programs place students in direct contact with nature, providing the knowledge and skills to prepare today’s youth to be tomorrow’s stewards of our natural world. Founded in 1944, Trees For Tomorrow is proud to be celebrating 75 years of conservation education in Wisconsin. Melanie and TFT have been hosting a Snapshot Wisconsin camera since July of 2017.

Melanie, the Environmental Science Educator for TFT, shared, “Participating in Snapshot Wisconsin has allowed us to learn more about the wildlife that lives at Trees For Tomorrow as well as engage our students and guests in exciting, hands-on learning!” Trees For Tomorrow keeps their visitors updated on what critters are making appearances at the property on their phenology board, which you can see below. Additionally, their education team created a trail camera class where students can learn about cameras, how to scout for good sites, and analyze trail camera data to investigate life histories of local species.

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Thank you, Melanie and Trees For Tomorrow! Thank you to all our trail camera hosts and Zooniverse volunteers for helping us discover our wildlife together.

Find out more about Trees For Tomorrow by visiting their website here.

Snapshot Saturday: March 2nd, 2019

Can you spot the elusive Wisconsin native featured in this Snapshot Saturday? Hint: their winter coats make them experts at camouflage.

3.2.19 SnapshotSaturdayDid you know you can view and classify photos collected from Snapshot Wisconsin cameras across the state at www.SnapshotWisconsin.org? It’s a fun activity for the whole family!