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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

Snap-a-thons

What is a Snap-a-thon you may ask? Take a guess from one of three options below.

  1. A wildlife photography marathon.
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Source: Bored Panda

  1. A classification party with the Snapshot Wisconsin project.

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  1. A marathon for snapping turtles.
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Source: A.B. Sheldon, WDNR

 

If you selected option 2, you are right!

If you read our newsletter or visit our website often, you will notice that the Snapshot Wisconsin project generates a lot of data. We have collected nearly 21 million photos so far. These photos become useful to support wildlife management decisions only when they have a classification tag attached to them and their accuracy is reliable. We have help on hand – more than a thousand trail camera hosts and nearly six thousand Zooniverse volunteers helping us classify these pictures. The idea behind a Snap-a-thon is to spread the word about the project even farther while running a fun competition using the Zooniverse website.

How a Snap-a-thon works is very simple: participants team up or play alone to classify pictures on Snapshot Wisconsin’s Zooniverse page for a set amount of time, typically 20 minutes. Each team is given a checklist of species. During the competition, participants tick off any of the listed species that they see and classify correctly. For uncommon or difficult-to-classify species, participants must raise their hands to get verification from the project team before their classifications are counted. Uncommon species or uncommon occurrences (like multiple species seen together in a photo sequence) also earn participants a higher score. In the end, we tally up the scores and declare a winner. So far, we’ve had 4 such contests and our contestants want to keep classifying even after the time is up. So, it’s pretty addictive!

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Snap-a-thon checklist

 

Pictures from previous Snap-a-thons:

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Snap-a-thon at UW-Madison

 

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Snap-a-thon at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin

 

If you’d like to host your own Snap-a-thon, drop us an email at DNRSnapshotWisconsin@wisconsin.gov and we’ll provide you with resources!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elk Calf Searching

After two days of meticulous searching in the rain, a crew of about ten people (including two Snapshot team members) dejectedly walked out of the forest. We were searching for elk (Cervus canadensis) calves in the Clam Lake and Flambeau River State Forest regions of Wisconsin, and had not had any luck thus far. Just as we were leaving, a biologist on the crew softly yelled “elk!”. Nestled into the side of a tree was a small brown creature perfectly camouflaged with the surrounding dead leaves. We estimated that we had walked by the little calf three times without noticing her!

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The female elk calf that Snapshot Wisconsin team members helped to find. She was a little soggy from the rain.

The elk biologists put a blindfold over the elk calf to keep her calm. With hushed voices, they took measurements, applied ear tags, fitted her with a VHF (very high frequency) collar for location tracking and then moved away. Collars provide information on mortality, movement and herd interactions throughout the calves’ lifetimes. Collectively, this data can be used to help inform management decisions for Wisconsin’s elk herds.

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Elk calves are fitted with VHF collars and ear tags for identification and location tracking. Photograph credit: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

For more information about Wisconsin’s elk herds, check out this link.

 

 

 

 

 

May #SuperSnap

This month’s #SuperSnap of a crisp looking coyote (Canis latrans) was nominated by @WInature. Coyotes are also known as the brushwolf, prairie wolf, kyute, little wolf and mush-quo-de-ma-in-gon (Chippewa). For more fun facts about coyotes, visit this link.

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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.

A Booming Success: Prairie Chickens and Trail Cameras

What looks like a chicken, lives in the prairie and has one of the most phenomenal displays of courtship in the animal kingdom? You guessed it, the greater prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido)! Earlier this spring, Snapshot Wisconsin teamed up with WDNR biologists in the Buena Vista Grasslands area to implement a prairie chicken trail camera monitoring project in Wisconsin.

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Greater prairie chicken males display on “lekking” grounds, which typically consist of a mound just a little higher up than the surrounding area. The males strut their stuff, including tufts of feathers that look like ears and orange air sacs the males use to “boom”.

In the 1950’s, the greater prairie chicken was close to extinction in the state of Wisconsin. The WDNR, in partnership with conservation groups, established a prairie chicken management program. Every year in early spring, WDNR biologists begin thoroughly surveying known greater prairie chicken lekking grounds to track population size and locations of leks.  The protection and monitoring of the species has helped the comeback of the prairie chicken in Wisconsin. Currently, a few thousand chickens can be found in the central part of the state.

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Photo of a male greater prairie chicken taken from a Snapshot Wisconsin camera.

This year, Snapshot Wisconsin deployed 15 cameras to help supplement monitoring efforts. Trail cameras can efficiently and continuously survey known lekking grounds to count peak numbers of males at each lek.

Group Photo

Snapshot Wisconsin team members and WDNR biologists stand behind the traditional surveying blind and a Snapshot Wisconsin trail camera.

The team had a blast deploying trail cameras at lekking grounds. For those of you who own trail cameras, you may be familiar with the walk test. In the chicken camera test, we ended up crawling to test if a chicken would be detected on camera. This resulted in a lot grass in our clothes and an equal amount of laughter.

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For more information on Wisconsin’s prairie chickens check out this link.

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Deer behavior research

Have you ever wondered about the scientific applications of your deer behavior classifications? Check out this recent article from NASA featuring Snapshot Wisconsin researcher John Clare! The work compares the “vigilant” and “foraging” deer behavior classifications from Zooniverse across space. In some areas, deer tended to be vigilant more often than they foraged, in other areas it was the other way around, and in still other areas deer tended to exhibit each behavior equally. The research can’t yet determine the “why” behind these patterns (likely a combination of vegetation, predator and weather patterns), but it’s great to see the Zooniverse behavior classifications used this way! Traditionally, behavior studies like this would require researchers to go out in the field and directly observe animals. You can imagine that to undertake a statewide study would require lots of eyes and travel hours! Thanks to Snapshot Wisconsin trail camera hosts and the people powered Zooniverse platform, we have a way to collect these data across larger swaths of space and time than was possible before.

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April #SuperSnap

Spring has finally arrived! In celebration of the warmer weather and spring flowers here in Wisconsin, our April #SuperSnap goes to this ballerina deer jumping for joy. Thanks for the nomination @momsabina!

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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.