Juvenile Bald Eagle

Snapshot Saturdays are a weekly feature on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s Facebook page. Give them a Like to keep up with recent DNR news and to view the weekly Snapshot Saturdays. 

The sight of the bald eagle soaring through the sky is a treat for anyone to witness, but have you ever seen an eagle this close-up? With a wingspan that pushes six feet, the bald eagle dwarfs not only other raptors, but many of our Wisconsin animals as well.

This incredible shot of a juvenile bald eagle was captured on a Bayfield County Snapshot Wisconsin trail camera!

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Are you interested in exploring the wonders of Wisconsin wildlife from your home? Visit www.SnapshotWisconsin.org to view images captured from trail cameras across the state. It’s a fun and educational activity for all!

March #SuperSnap

This month’s #SuperSnap features a porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) from Vilas county making its way down a path of prairie flowers. It may seem surprising, but these stout, ambling creatures can often be found at the tip-top of trees snacking away on bark, stems, leaves, fruits, and other springtime buds.

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A huge thanks to Zooniverse participant LynnGrace for the #SuperSnap nomination!

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.

Displaying Spring Turkey

Snapshot Saturdays are a weekly feature on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s Facebook page. Give them a Like to keep up with recent DNR news and to view the weekly Snapshot Saturdays. 

Here’s a fun fact – adult turkeys can sport up to 6,000 feathers! Snapshot Wisconsin volunteers get the unique opportunity to witness these birds struts their feathers through the lens of their trail camera during the turkey breeding season each spring. Take a look at this tom captured in front of an Adams County camera!

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Did you know you can view and classify photos collected from Snapshot Wisconsin cameras across the state at www.SnapshotWisconsin.org?

Wisconsin’s Phenological Legacy

Sunset over a lake in winter

With the help of volunteer trail camera hosts, Snapshot Wisconsin is lucky to monitor over 2,000 cameras throughout the state. This people-powered data collection allows researchers to gain valuable insight into wildlife activity throughout the year. Along with the time-lapse photos that all Snapshot Wisconsin cameras are programmed to capture once per day, 365 days per year, the cameras also capture seasonal wildlife trends like increased animal activity, color-changing coats and the return or departure of migratory birds.

While Snapshot does not currently keep track of the firsts and lasts for all our cameras, each individual camera host can! This is a type of phenological record keeping. The USA National Phenology Network tracks the phenological events of “nature’s calendar,” keeping a record of the “firsts” and “lasts” that occur throughout a year and allowing scientists to establish a sense of how species respond to natural cues such as temperature and day length. Phenology is extremely accessible and both professional and citizen scientists can participate in creating phenological data sets.

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Wisconsin has a rich phenological record keeping history, one of the most well-known contributors being the Leopold family.

Aldo Leopold was the first chair of the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His work and writings have inspired countless environmentalists, conservationists, and nature-goers. Leopold’s phenology is famous; he took extensive notes and kept meticulous records. Leopold lived in Madison during the work week, but on the weekends he would go out to a shack on land that he and his family owned in Baraboo on the Wisconsin River. There he would rise early in the morning to observe and document the birds and plants that emerged that day. Almost 80 years later, ecologists recreated a soundscape of Leopold’s shack using the data that he took from this one particular spot.

An old-looking notebook page from Aldo Leopold's field notebook

A page in one of Aldo Leopold’s field notebooks from the 1940s – University of Wisconsin Archives

The audio was created using the ecological and species identification expertise of Professor Stan Temple of UW-Madison, as well as the audio knowledge of Chrys Bocast, a graduate student and acoustic ecologist at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. The soundtrack transports the listener to a spring morning along the sandy shores of the Wisconsin River in the 1940s. This was the first time that today’s ecologists could experience what Leopold had decades earlier. It was also a way for the scientists to hear the differences in the acoustic landscape, not just see it on paper or graphs. Phenological records — records kept both then and now — allow scientists like Temple and Bocast to bridge the gaps between environmental past, present, and future.

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Data that are contributed through Snapshot cameras can inform our knowledge of who, what, where and when our favorite wildlife species are emerging, and what we can expect in the years to come based off of historical data. If you are interested in helping contribute to phenological record keeping, there are an overwhelming number of ways to get involved other than hosting a trail camera or classifying photos on Zooniverse. These resources can be found in the Nature’s Notebook section of the National Phenology Network website.

How Much Do Elk Antlers Weigh?

Snapshot Saturdays are a weekly feature on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s Facebook page. Give them a Like to keep up with recent DNR news and to view the weekly Snapshot Saturdays. 

This snowy Snapshot Saturday features two bull elk captured on a trail camera in the Black River State Forest. Here’s a fun fact: elk antlers can weigh up to twenty pounds each and reach a spread of four feet! Learn more fun facts about elk here.

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Interested in hosting your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera? Visit our webpage to find out how to get involved: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/snapshot/.

Pondering the Presence of Multiple Species in One Photo

Collecting photos from a fixed location can give us an idea of which animal species are utilizing the same space. Often hours, or even days, elapse between photos of two different species crossing the same area. However, a small percentage of our trail camera photos capture moments of more than one species in the frame together. We recently took inventory of these multi-species instances, and despite our data set growing to over 2.5 million animal triggers, only around 4,300 of them contain multiple species within the same photo.

Figure 1- Known combinations of species appearing in Snapshot Wisconsin photos. Combinations are alphabetical from left to right.

So far, we have confirmed 128 combinations of species appearing in photos together, 119 of which are combinations of two species and 9 of which are combinations of three species. Deer are most commonly one of the animals present in these multi-species occurrences. 37 of these multi-species occurrences are unique combinations of species that have only been observed once in our data set (orange lines in figure 1). A few examples of these include elk with turkey, red fox with opossum, and other bird with porcupine.

Figure 2 – A bobcat is startled by a bird, possibly an American Woodcock

In the future, we hope to perform formal analyses with these data, however there are certain challenges that we must consider. An example of one such consideration for analyzing multi-species trail camera information is detectability. In general, trail cameras have a higher chance of firing if an animal that wanders in its field of view is both large and close to the camera. This might account for the high number of instances of deer and “other birds” occurring together. Birds, especially small birds, may be present at the site many times throughout the day, but may only be captured on camera when a deer, which is generally large enough to reliably trigger the camera, steps into the frame.

Figure 3 – A raccoon and a deer come face-to-face

One observation that can be made from this preliminary analysis is that species that tend to utilize a particular habitat type may be more likely to be pictured together. For example, we have photos of mink and beaver together as well as muskrat and raccoon. These combinations are intuitive because all four species are commonly associated with water.

Figure 4 – A turkey flees a running bobcat

Another observation is that many of the combinations are of two species that do not have a strong predator-prey relationship. For example, deer and turkey are the two species most commonly pictured together, and neither is a predator of the other. Conversely, both bobcats and turkeys are relatively well-represented in the data set, yet we might not expect to see the two species together considering one is a predator and the other might be prey. Indeed, we have only observed one trigger of the two species together.

We hope that Snapshot Wisconsin can continue to shed light on interactions between species such as deer and predators of deer, as this was an early goal of the project. In the meantime, we ponder the many ways in which these space- and time- dependent occurrences are unique.

If you find an interesting interaction between two species on Snapshot Wisconsin, send it to us at DNRSnapshotWisconsin@Wisconsin.gov or share it on our Zooniverse page!

 

World Wildlife Day

World Wildlife Day

A celebration for the world’s wild animals and plants, World Wildlife Day was originated by the United Nations General Assembly and was first observed on March 3rd, 2014.

Why March 3rd? The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, more commonly referred to as CITES, was signed on March 3rd of 1973. CITES is an agreement between governments to ensure that international trade of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The agreement protects more than 37,000 species of plants and animals, and currently has 183 participating Parties across the globe.

We hope you join us today in appreciating and raising awareness for the diversity of plants and wildlife that call our state, our country, and our world their home!

February #SuperSnap

This month’s #SuperSnap features a couple of curious opossums from Waupaca County. Opossums are usually solitary animals, however they will occasionally interact during the breeding season from February to September.

Two opossums stare at each other

A huge thanks to Zooniverse moderator gardenmaeve for the #SuperSnap nomination!

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.

Two Gray Fox Captured on Camera

Snapshot Saturdays are a weekly feature on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s Facebook page. Give them a Like to keep up with recent DNR news and to view the weekly Snapshot Saturdays. 

The 29th of February is a rare and special occasion. Another rare and special occasion is capturing a stellar photo of the sly, nocturnal gray fox on a Snapshot Wisconsin trail camera.

Look closely to catch not just one, but two gray fox captured on camera by an Outagamie County volunteer!

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Did you know you can view and classify photos collected from Snapshot Wisconsin cameras across the state at www.SnapshotWisconsin.org?

Maps of the Zooniverse

The following piece was written by OAS Communications Coordinator AnnaKathryn Kruger for the Snapshot Wisconsin newsletter. To subscribe to the newsletter, visit this link

The opportunity to classify photos of wildlife from across Wisconsin draws a diverse array of individuals to our Zooniverse page. Some volunteers are trail camera hosts themselves and enjoy classifying photos from other camera sites. Zooniverse also offers this opportunity to those who are unable to host a camera but still wish to participate in the project.

The maps here were created using Google Analytics data, which can anonymously record information about users who access a webpage, such as their nearest city. This data shows us that Snapshot Wisconsin reaches an audience far beyond Wisconsin, and even beyond the United States! In total, volunteers from 696 cities across 41 countries have interacted with the Snapshot Wisconsin Zooniverse page since 2016. 190 of those cities are in Wisconsin.

Each dot represents just one city, regardless of the number of individuals who accessed the site in that location. For example, the dot for the city of Madison could represent thousands of users. Zooming in on Wisconsin, we see that many dots are centered around the most populous areas, such as Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Chicago. This pattern can be attributed to the fact that these areas also host the highest concentration of suburbs.

Regardless of the volunteer’s location, each classification we receive is important to the success of Snapshot Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Map

World Map