Archive by Author | Christine Anhalt-Depies

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!

 

 

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Is this deer sick?

Our Snapshot Wisconsin trail cameras capture images from all over the state and throughout the year.  Sometimes folks spot a critter that looks a bit different from the others and ask, “Is this deer sick?”  In most cases, the answer is “not likely.”  In this post we are sharing some of our most frequently asked questions about deer appearance and wildlife diseases.

M2E28L65-65R387B337This deer looks skinny!  Is it sick?  Could it have CWD? 

Winter in Wisconsin can be quite rough for a deer!  In summer food sources are abundant, but come wintertime deer have to rely on less nutritious forage like twigs, lichens, or leftovers in harvested crop fields. Because resources vary significantly with the season, a deer’s weight will also vary.  After particularly long winters, deer may look very skinny the following spring and even in to early summer.  But not to worry; they will put the weight back on in no time.

CWD (chronic wasting disease) is a fatal nervous system disease that affects deer, elk, and moose.  CWD has been found in wild deer in 23 Wisconsin counties, with highest prevalence in the southern part of the state. Clinical signs of CWD include diminished muscle tone and emaciation, but outward symptoms often do not appear for months or years after infection. The disease is best confirmed through a lab test for the disease; physical appearance based on trail camera images is not a reliable indicator.  More likely a deer is skinny because of poor food resources in winter and not because of CWD or some other disease.

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What is wrong with this deer’s coat? 

Each spring deer molt or lose their winter coats.  The thick grey hairs that make up the winter coat are replaced with a new reddish-brown summer coat.  This molting process can happen quite quickly and during the transition deer can look a little ratty and rough.  This is a normal process and nature’s way of making sure deer are “dressed” for the temperature.

M2E52L150-149R399B383This deer has an injury.  Can you notify someone or help this deer?

Sometimes deer with physical injuries show up in our photos.  This is common for wild animals. These injuries can be caused by any number of reasons, such as scraping against a fence or perhaps from a predator.  In many cases, the small injuries will heal quickly, leaving a scar or patch bare of hair.  In cases where the injury is major (say from a car collision) and the deer cannot recover, the animal will become an important food source for scavengers.

All of the photos appear on Zooniverse many months after they have been taken, and the animal may no longer be in the area.  Although reporting the observation via Zooniverse will not be helpful, Wisconsinites who personally observe sick or dead animals can make a timely report to their local DNR office or contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

August #SuperSnap

This month’s #SuperSnap comes to us from @Snowdigger.  Although we’re still enjoying the late summer here in Wisconsin, we couldn’t resist sharing this snowy winter scene featuring a coyote.  There are also signs of another critter who occupies this wood; look closely to see trees that have been felled by beaver.

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Check out all the nominations by searching “#SuperSnap” in Talk. Hashtag your favorite photos for a chance to be featured in the next #SuperSnap blog post.

When Programs Intersect

In a previous post we shared an experience on a property restored to prairie with help from a landowner program. Did you know that 55% of Snapshot Wisconsin trail camera hosts participate in landowner programs?  The Wisconsin DNR offers many opportunities for landowners interested in managing their property.  These programs include:

Other programs are available through the University of Wisconsin Extension, including the Wisconsin Coverts Project. This project provides 3-day workshops for landowners who want to learn how to enhance their woodlands for wildlife.

Recently, a Snapshot Wisconsin volunteer in Iowa County shared with us photos captured by her trail camera after she conducted a prescribed burn on her property. Prescribed burns can be used to improve wildlife habitat, control invasive plant species, restore and maintain native plant communities and reduce wildfire potential. The Landowner Incentive Program provided support to carry out the burn.  Shortly after the burn, turkeys started using the area and showed off for the Snapshot Wisconsin camera. We were excited to see these two programs intersect!

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More resources for landowners can be found on the Wisconsin DNR website. Are you involved in any landowner programs?  Tell us about it in the comments!

June #SuperSnap

#SuperSnap is a new, reoccurring blog feature and a way for us to share some of the best  Snapshot Wisconsin photos! We received some great entries for our first ever #SuperSnap, and it was difficult to pick just one. Without further ado, this month’s selection is a curious buck nominated by e2ntity.

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Check out all the nominations by searching “#SuperSnap” in Talk. Hashtag your favorite photos for a chance to be featured in the next #SuperSnap blog post.

Cool Projects and Tools

The Snapshot Wisconsin Team recently attended the Citizen Science Association conference in St. Paul, MN where researchers and organizations were on hand to share the latest in citizen science. At the conference we learned about some really cool projects and tools that might interest educators and citizen scientists:

Citizen Science Projects

The National Phenology Network monitors the influence of climate on the phenology of plants, animals, and landscapes. Their Nature’s Notebook Education Program is designed to provide students with place-based, hands-on learning opportunities.

How does this spring compare to “normal”? Data from the National Phenology Network can tell us.

The Habitat Network provides tools to better understand urban wildlife habitat through mapping.  Habitat Network connects you with other individuals in your region and provides participants with resource on how to cultivate habitat.

CoCoRaHS is the community collaborative rain, hail, and snow network.  Members of the network work together to measure and map participation across the U.S.

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Great Sunflower Project participants observe pollinators like this bumble bee.

Those interested in bees and butterflies can join the Great Sunflower Project and the Monarch Larvae Monitoring Project to help monitor how our flower loving insect friends are faring.

For volunteers in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Citizen Based Monitoring program maintains a list of citizen science projects that are active in Wisconsin.  Check out the calendar to see a list of upcoming citizen science events.

Tools

There are some great tools available to help collect data and learn about wildlife in the field. A few we learned about in St. Paul are the Echo Meter Touch device for recording bat echolocations, Song Meter for capturing wildlife sounds, and Song Sleuth for automatically identify singing birds. Ready to start a project that involves collecting wildlife sounds? You may be interested in this grant program to support bioacoustics research efforts.

Announcing! Data Exploration Toolkit for Educators

Snapshot Wisconsin is a great opportunity for kids to get outdoors and learn about their local wildlife.  To date, nearly 200 educators and their students participate in Snapshot Wisconsin, either by hosting a trail camera or participating online here at Zooniverse.

In 2016, we released two resources to help educators with implementing Snapshot Wisconsin in their classroom: Snapshot Wisconsin Field Guide for help with animal identification and Snapshot Wisconsin in the Classroom which catalogues lesson plans relevant to Snapshot Wisconsin by topic and grade level.

Today, we are pleased to announce a new resource available to educators–the Data Exploration Toolkit. The Toolkit is designed to provide students with an opportunity to explore the real data generated by Snapshot Wisconsin. It consists of:

  1. A dataset which provides information on over 2,000 images captured in the first year of the Snapshot Wisconsin project, including links to over 600 photos. The dataset is available both as a Microsoft Excel file and as a Google Sheet, making it easy to use with Google Classroom.
  2. guiding document with recommended uses for the dataset.
  3. A YouTube video demonstrating sample analyses.

Together, students and educators can ask their own scientific questions and explore data through graphing exercises or statistical analyses. The Toolkit can be used across grade levels and subject areas including mathematics and science.

Links to these resources can also be found on the Education tab of the Zooniverse page – check them out!

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Michael Theine’s students show off bar graphs they made using data from the Snapshot Wisconsin Data Exploration Toolkit

A big thank you to educators who reviewed and provided helpful feedback on an earlier version of the Toolkit! Funding for the above products was provided by the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

What is this collar for and how does it work?

If you frequent Snapshot Wisconsin, you may have noticed photos of wildlife with funny looking collars around their necks.  Maybe you’ve wondered, “What is this collar for and how does it work?”

Read More…

Careers in Natural Resources

This post is the first in a brand new series on our blog about careers in natural resources.  Within this field, careers are incredibly diverse and can range from a focus on genetics and biotechnology to parks and recreation.

The Snapshot Wisconsin research team itself is diverse. It is made up of scientists at various stages in their careers including university faculty, agency scientists, and students.  We specialize in outreach, wildlife management, remote sensing, quantitative analysis, social science, and more.  You can learn more about the team members here.

Today’s blog is on careers in human dimensions of natural resources.  Individuals who work in human dimensions focus on the political, social, or economic components of conservation or management challenges.  Their work may focus on understanding the perspectives of natural resources stakeholders, collaborating with communities to achieve solutions to environmental issues, or examining the social impacts of natural resource decisions.

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Photo Credit: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Positions they hold might include: outreach coordinator, environmental educator, sustainability coordinator, research scientist, professor, or consultant. Skills important to this career include communication and interpersonal skills, the ability to collaborate with diverse groups, and a background in natural resources policy, environmental economics, or the social sciences (such as psychology or sociology).

Citizen science projects live and die by their volunteers, so for projects like Snapshot Wisconsin, understanding the “human dimensions” is vital. For example, knowing volunteers’ motivations can help a project to better meet volunteer interests and needs. Some members of our Snapshot Wisconsin research team are social scientists that conduct research which may help to improve our project and understand the outcomes of the project, like what volunteer learn and take away from participating.

 

Who are the trail camera volunteers?

Season 3 of Snapshot Wisconsin will feature photos collect by volunteers right here in Wisconsin!

Volunteers who host trail cameras on private land are responsible for deploying and maintaining the cameras, as well as submitting photos to the Wisconsin DNR several times per year.  To date, 71 volunteers in two counties have been trained in the project. An additional 65 educators across the state are using Snapshot Wisconsin in their classroom. Next month the Wisconsin DNR will begin training volunteers in four more counties.

Here’s a closer look at who has volunteered to host a trail camera so far.

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If you are interested in learning more about volunteering for Snapshot Wisconsin, visit the project website or join the mailing list. Already a trail camera volunteer? Tell us about your favorite part of participating in Snapshot Wisconsin in the comments.