Thanks 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.