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.
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.
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.
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.
Happy Spring! the Snapshot Wisconsin team in spending the month of May bopping around the upper Midwest for trainings, fieldwork and conferences, oh my! We’ve been checking in on Zooniverse from the road, but we apologize if we’ve been less responsive than usual this season. Here are some highlights:
New elk cameras!
A new cohort of elk will be released into the Flambeau River State Forest (FRSF) in Sawyer County this summer (south of the existing Clam Lake herd). The Snapshot Team traveled to FRSF to train volunteers who will be hosting cameras in this new area. We also got to tromp through the woods ourselves to put up some of the cameras, and came across lots of animal sign, wildflowers and other indications that spring has sprung.
Citizen Science Association conference
We learned a lot about the field of citizen science at the Citizen Science Association conference in St. Paul, Minnesota last week. At our tabling session we met all kinds of wonderful people managing citizen science projects, including other trail camera projects. It was wonderful to hear about all the fantastic work going on in citizen science, and we came home with a list of ideas on how to improve our own project. Team member Christine Anhalt-Depies gave a great talk about what motivates our trail camera hosts to participate in Snapshot Wisconsin.
New counties, new trainings!
This month, we’re providing trainings for our trail camera hosts in St. Croix, Oneida and Marinette counties. Stay tuned for 6 new counties opening for enrollment in the next couple weeks!
This Friday, May 19, Christine, Christina and Susan will represent Snapshot Wisconsin at a Night in the Cloud in St. Paul, Minnesota. For those of you in the Twin Cities area, come down and learn about 100+ hands-on projects & see a screening of “The Crowd and the Cloud.” We’d love to see you!
Thanks to a dedicated effort by our volunteers, Wisconsin DNR staff and University of Wisconsin students, we were able to classify all of the elk photos from 2016!
This Science Update features data from the Clam Lake elk area only, due to a lack of elk photos from the Black River Falls area. From GPS collar information, we know that many of the Black River Falls elk prefer to hang out outside of our camera area (perhaps they are bashful?). When we have more Snapshot Wisconsin cameras in the counties surrounding Black River Falls, we hope to have enough data for a Science Update on those elk as well.
There were 120 cameras active in the Clam Lake area in 2016, capturing 3,996 triggers containing elk. After grouping consecutive triggers showing the same elk, we ended up with 305 unique elk events.
We graphed daily activity patterns of antlerless elk and bulls from the 305 unique elk events. Overall, elk were most active between 6 and 9 AM and 5 and 6 PM. Antlerless elk were most active around dawn and dusk, while bull activity peaked later in the morning and evening.
We also graphed monthly elk activity throughout 2016. Because not all of our cameras were active during the entire year, we corrected photo hit rate based on the percentage of cameras active each week. The image below shows this corrected photo count for antlerless elk and bull elk throughout 2016.
The marked spike in bull activity at weeks 36 through 40 indicates the annual rut period. That period corresponds to a sharp drop off in activity level for antlerless elk; cows tend to stay put during that period while bulls move around more. (Curious about why this might be? Click here for more information on elk life history and mating behavior.) The trail cameras give us the ability to pinpoint the time frame of the rut period more precisely than we were previously able.
The following post is by guest blogger Andrew L’Roe, a friend of Snapshot Wisconsin and fellow nature lover. Thanks for the post, Andrew!
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:
- 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.
- A guiding document with recommended uses for the dataset.
- 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!
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.
This second post in our series on careers in natural resources. Last time we featured careers in human dimensions of natural resources. This time, we’re talking about spatial analysis and its role in natural resource management.
Spatial analysts work with any kind of data that can be represented spatially: roads, lakes, land use/landcover, weather systems, landmarks, demographics, and many many more. They use tools like Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to visualize data and create maps to show relationships among variables.
In natural resource fields, we can use GIS to, among many other things, map suitable habitat for different species, plot animal movements using GPS collar data, and create species distribution maps. Using spatial analyses we can answer questions like: “Are black bears attracted to areas with higher or lower human population density?” “Are sandhill cranes more commonly found near wetlands or near corn fields?” “Where do the habitat ranges of red fox and gray fox overlap?” “Is the range of fishers expanding southward?”
For Snaphshot Wisconsin, we’ve used GIS to make preliminary maps of animal presence in certain localized areas. A possible next step is to test correlations between animal presence and environmental variables to find out more about why animals go where they go. We hope that once the project is rolled out statewide we will be able to ask these types of questions for the whole state!
The Snapshot Wisconsin team was in Milwaukee the last few days attending the Annual Meeting of the Wisconsin Chapter of The Wildlife Society.
This event was a great opportunity to learn about research being done throughout Wisconsin as well as other parts of the world. We attended talks about new methods to estimate deer recruitment in Wisconsin; carnivore detection and abundance in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore; climbing behavior of Gray Fox; and the Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring Network just to name a few. We are hoping to be able to have some guest posts on the blog about other camera trap research projects in the future.
John gave a presentation entitled “Validation of crowd-sourced trail camera image classifications” which had some great information about classification accuracy of Zooniverse volunteers as compared to expert classifications. Christina’s presentation was “Snapshot Wisconsin: Updates from our first year of volunteer-based wildlife monitoring with trail cameras”. Susan focused on the elk monitoring project with a presentation called “Using Cameras and Volunteers to Monitor Elk Reintroduction in Wisconsin”.
The conference was also a great opportunity to socialize with colleagues from other parts of Wisconsin and see a bit of downtown Milwaukee.