My name is Emily Buege – I’m the newest Snapshot Wisconsin team member, and I wanted to do a quick blog post to introduce myself. After obtaining my bachelor’s degree in ecology from Winona State University, I moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama where I began working toward my master’s degree in environment & natural resources. In the mix, I also spent a summer working at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota.
My master’s thesis examined the distribution of nesting sites for several native fish species in the Bladen River in Southern Belize. Specifically, I looked at which habitat variables seemed to be most important for each of four species as they chose a site suitable to brood their young. All four species were cichlids, which are well-known for defending their eggs and fry against predators. Not only did that parental behavior make for an easy way to identify and record the nest locations, but it was also fascinating to watch!
Being that my project was through the University of Alabama’s Department of Geography, one can imagine that it was spatial in nature. Combined with my preexisting passion for wildlife conservation, the skills and interests that resulted from my time at UA led me to my new position with Snapshot: Spatial Analyst and Database Manager. I am very excited to dive into these roles, because the project is rich in spatially-explicit data! This is especially true with the launch of Phase 2 – all corners of the state will be reporting wildlife data that has previously been unavailable.
In addition to making more maps with our new data, one of the efforts I’m looking forward to working on is data visualization. Now that Snapshot Wisconsin has collected so much data, there are a lot of opportunities to do visualize that information. Right now, we have no way of allowing the public to interact with the data or to view a select set of photos. We hope that as the project grows, we can develop a tool to do just that. I think that making data interactive and visual allows more people to connect with it on a deeper level.
See you out in the field and on the message boards!
We are excited to announce that Snapshot Wisconsin is entering
Phase 2, meaning the project is now open in all 72 counties on both private and public land!
Snapshot Wisconsin launched in 2016, starting off in only two counties. The project has since grown reaching 26 counties on privately owned lands, while accepted applications from educators and tribal affiliates statewide. Phase 2 of the project will provide an even more accurate “snapshot” of Wisconsin’s unique and diverse wildlife, while expanding the opportunity to all corners of the state for volunteers to experience firsthand the fauna occupying their wild lands.
The Snapshot Wisconsin team is also debuting a collection of lesson plans, all incorporating photos, data, and concepts related to the project.
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.
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.
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!
We’re happy to announce that enrollment recently opened in eight new counties, bringing our county total to 26. Any individual or organization in these counties with access to 10 acres of land is encouraged to apply to host a trail camera. We are also continuing to accept applications from educators and tribal members/affiliates across the state. Check out our project web page and monthly newsletter for complete updates!
Here at Snapshot Wisconsin Headquarters, we’re up to our ears in data and we’re scurrying around to compile, assess and analyze what we’ve got. We’ll be posting updates soon on what we’ve got so far (including some really cool maps!). In the meantime, new photos just keep on rolling in, and it’s time for more classifying!
A few new features for Season 6:
- Fewer photos of common species! That means fewer deer, squirrels, turkeys, raccoons, and bunnies proportional to the total number of photos.
- New retirement rules that will retire all photos (especially deer photos) more quickly
- Streamlined interface. Instead of getting a screen showing your classifications, you’ll pop straight to the next photo after pressing “Done.”
- By and large, we’ve corrected wrong dates and times on the photos. There are still a few (literally just a few) that will have a clearly wrong year (1934 or 2021), but there shouldn’t be any that say nighttime when it’s really day, or winter when it’s really summer.
Snapshot Wisconsin trail cameras currently collect about 1 million photos per month, and we’re planning to add a lot more cameras over the next few years! That’s A LOT of photos, and we can’t send them all to Zooniverse. Our trail camera hosts get the first look at the photos they collect, and they do an excellent job helping us identify photos that don’t need to go to Zooniverse. Starting this season, their efforts will allow 75% of the total photos to bypass Zooniverse, leaving just 25% – the cream of the crop.
We hope you enjoy the season with these changes in place! Thanks again for all you do.
We’re happy to announce that enrollment is now open in six new counties, bringing our county total to 18. Any individual or organization in these counties with access to 10 acres of land is encouraged to apply to host a trail camera. We are also continuing to accept applications from educators and tribal members/affiliates across the state. Check out our project web page and monthly newsletter for complete updates!
Two seasons of Snapshot Wisconsin are now in the books! As you may recall, the first two seasons focused primarily on images from concentrated camera grids located around two focal areas where elk exist.
Both areas are predominantly forested, but differ slightly in terms of climate and vegetation species. Animal-wise, we would also expect some minor differences in community:
…and we find a few things. One surprise is some indication that Cottontail rabbits were photographed more frequently further north. This may be a case of confusing rabbits and hares in their summer coats, but results above have not yet been filtered by any agreement metric. Less surprising: there were more elk pictures at the northern Wisconsin site (elk herds are just getting going in central Wisconsin), and also more bear and snowshoe hare pictures up north as well. (Of course, deer are predominant). Generally speaking, these two areas are fairly similar, and one exciting development (forthcoming next season) is project expansion across a broader extent of the state.
If you’ve been following our project updates, you know that we’re rolling out on a county-by-county basis. This makes it manageable for our small DNR team to recruit and train volunteers to host trail cameras across the state.
Well, as of today, we’re happy to announce that enrollment is now open in four new counties, bringing our county total to six: Iowa, Iron, Jackson, Manitowoc, Sawyer, and Waupaca. Any individual or organization in these counties with access to 10 acres of land is now encouraged to apply to host a trail camera. We are also continuing to accept applications from educators and tribal members/affiliates across the state.
Look for photos from these counties in future seasons of Snapshot Wisconsin on Zooniverse!
Meanwhile, the project continues to get positive press. Here’s Dan Small, everyone’s favorite Wisconsin outdoors icon, giving Snapshot Wisconsin a shout out:
We are so very excited to launch Snapshot Wisconsin, a volunteer-based effort to monitor wildlife using trail cameras. This project is run by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), with the help of wonderful collaborators and volunteers like you. Those of you who participated in this project’s precursor – Wisconsin Wildlife Watch – will be familiar with the general idea of Snapshot Wisconsin. For the newbies, let’s get you oriented!
The goals of this project are to:
- Increase public engagement with natural resources and the outdoors.
- Provide data needed to make wildlife management decisions.
To accomplish these goals, we are establishing a statewide network of trail cameras. Each camera is hosted by a volunteer who sets up the camera, collects the camera’s SD card at least every three months, uploads photos, and screens the photos. Then, we transfer the photos to Zooniverse where users can identify and count the animals they see in the photos.
This process is immensely helpful to us. Once the project is rolled out across the state, we will potentially be handling millions of photos each month – far too many for WDNR staff to classify on our own!
We are interested in all the wildlife species found in the photos, but a special focus of Season 1 is to learn more about Wisconsin’s elk population. The first set of cameras were set up in two areas of Wisconsin where elk have been reintroduced (more detail here and on our Research page), and Season 1 photos are from these elk reintroduction areas.
Future Snapshot Wisconsin seasons will include photos from different counties around the state as we enroll volunteers on a rolling basis. (If you live in Wisconsin and would like to apply to host a trail camera, please visit our official project page.)
Stay tuned to this blog for updates and feel free to frequent our Talk boards to communicate with researchers and other users.