Science of Surveys

As graduate student on the Snapshot Wisconsin project, part of my role is to help the team better understand their volunteers and conduct research that will assist with program improvement.  One way I do this is by surveying trail camera hosts when they enter the program and after they have been participating in Snapshot Wisconsin for one year.

Developing a survey takes more work than you might expect!  Some things, like age or occupation, are relatively easy to measure.  However, abstract concepts like satisfaction or attitudes are much more difficult to capture in a survey.  These abstract concepts must be measured in more indirect ways, and typically social scientists develop a number of survey questions or items to measure a concept.

For example, let’s say I wanted to measure someone’s job satisfaction through a survey.  You could ask, “How happy are you overall with your job?” (Rate 1-5).

Surveys ready to be delivered to Snapshot trail camera hosts

In order to capture more aspects of job satisfaction, it would be better to ask: “How happy are you with each of the following parts of your job?  Autonomy, work load, salary, coworker relations, etc.” (Rate each 1-5).

Bear with me while I get theoretical for a moment…

Imagine you have a whole universe of survey items you could ask someone about job satisfaction.  If you choose just one question to ask them, that question is not likely to be a good representation of their job satisfaction as a whole.  However, if you ask them multiple questions, you get a much better representation of their job satisfaction.

Let me use an analogy.  If I want to know all the different species of mammals found in a particular county and I put out just one trail camera in that county, it isn’t likely to be sufficient.  I put out a whole bunch of cameras across the county, I’d get a much more accurate count.

Often, I get this question from people who take surveys: Why do some of these survey questions seem so similar to one another?  Can’t you ask this with just one question?

The answer is: if we are asking about an abstract concept in a survey, assessing it indirectly though multiple questions is the best way to go if we want valid scientific results.

Through email and the internet it is so easy to deliver surveys and if you are like me, you get a survey in your inbox from some business or organization just about every week.  Hopefully this sheds a little light on what goes on behind the scenes before you get that “new mail” notification.

For those of you who have completed a Snapshot Wisconsin survey, your responses are truly valued.  We are learning a lot; see here for some early results and keep your eyes on the blog for more. If you are interested in learning more about the science behind surveys, let me know in the comments!

 

 

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Snapshot Saturday: October 13th, 2018

Any guesses on what species this lanky limbed species is? Hint: Snapshot Wisconsin caught its first rare species this summer on cameras in both Vilas and Oneida Counties!

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.

2018 Volunteer Recognition Events!

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2018 Stewart Lake County Park Volunteer Recognition Event

Stewart Lake County park outside Mount Horeb was the setting for our first volunteer recognition event of 2018. It was fun to see some of our volunteers again who we haven’t seen since training or who we might never have met in person at all. We had about 60 people turn out for a lovely evening. Jen and Taylor gave a presentation that included some of our science updates from the last year of the project. Sarah got the privilege of handing out the recognition certificates to the volunteers. I was able to share some of the changes we have planned for Phase 2 of the project, including much needed improvements to our IT system. We had been planning on cooking the food ourselves but at the last minute decided we had enough on our plate without that and opted for catering. Some of our volunteers brought dishes to pass and the Snapshot crew brought some desserts. Thanks to all for contributing to a successful event!

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Sarah handing out certificates

Unfortunately, we had to cancel our 2nd event planned for September 20th at Lake Wazee due to forecasted severe weather. We are looking for alternate dates (and an inside location!) for later this fall/early winter. We will let folks know when it is rescheduled.

We are looking forward to transitioning to more of these types of events in future as we transition more fully to online training and don’t have to travel so much for in person training. All of our trail camera hosts who have participated for at least a year receive an invitation to our recognition events. Getting close to your one year anniversary? Keep an eye on your mail for a letter from us and a special gift!

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Taylor and Jen presenting Snapshot science updates

Snapshot Saturday: October 6th, 2018

Check out this silly duo captured on a Dane County Snapshot Wisconsin camera. As they say – like mother, like child. Happy Snapshot Saturday!

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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.

October Volunteer of the Month

October’s Volunteer of the Month is
Thomas from Marinette County!

Thomas has been a trail camera host since June 2017. Thomas is also an activate participant on Snapshot Wisconsin’s crowdsourcing platform, www.SnapshotWisconsin.org, where you may recognize his handle of @Swamp-eye. His username comes from the position of his camera overlooking the swamp on his property, the same piece of land where he was born and raised.

Thomas enjoys hunting, fishing, woodcarving and volunteering with Snapshot Wisconsin in his free time. He shared, “I have always been interested in the flora and fauna of this great county. I learned my hunting skills from my dad and my love of nature from my mom.” One of our favorite quotes from Thomas is, “you couldn’t find a better hobby” – we think we couldn’t find better volunteers!

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Thomas and his Snapshot Wisconsin equipment kit (hiking stick not included!)

Thank you, Thomas! Thank you to all our trail camera hosts and Zooniverse volunteers for helping us discover our wildlife together.

September #SuperSnap

This month’s #SuperSnap goes to this tom turkey in full display from Waukesha County. The Wisconsin turkey story is recognized as an incredible success. Wisconsin turkeys were considered extirpated (locally extinct) by the 1970s. Since reintroduction efforts, turkeys have spread far and wide over the Wisconsin landscape. To learn more about the turkey success story, click this link.  Thank you for the photo nomination @snowdigger and @anhaltcm!

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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.

Snapshot Saturday: September 29th, 2018

Check out what this Bald Eagle snagged for lunch! This shot comes from a Snapshot Wisconsin trail camera in Sawyer County. Happy Snapshot Saturday!

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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.

Behind the Scenes – 1400 New Volunteers!

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Aisle of Kits – Science Operations Center Library

The Snapshot Wisconsin team (mainly our awesome summer intern, Ally) spent a lot of time over the summer prepping equipment for our statewide launch. We had over 200 kits made and thought that was a good amount. None of us could have predicted the phenomenal response from new volunteers! Since August 9th we have had more than 1100 people signup to host Snapshot Wisconsin cameras across the state.  Additionally, more than 300 people had signed up in non-open counties over the last 2 years. So, things at Snapshot Wisconsin have been super busy, to put it mildly. We started our fall training schedule last week with in person training in Platteville and Darlington. This week we are off to Merrill and Crandon (the remainder of our training schedule can be seen here).  We also launched a new online training system, including brand new videos, last week. More than 200 people have completed the new online training system and we are working on getting them setup with MySnapshot accounts and getting equipment out the door. Thanks to all the volunteers for their patience and enthusiasm for getting started with our project. We have been working on some automation to better manage the multitudes of new volunteers, in time that should help us to be more efficient.

We are really excited to spend our fall traveling, meeting new volunteers and seeing new photos come in from all over Wisconsin.  Stay tuned for more behind the scenes blog posts to come!

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Sarah and Taylor taking a much needed yoga break

Snapshot Saturday: September 22nd, 2018

We are saying goodbye to summer, and LEAPING into fall! Check out the impressive hops on this Ashland County deer captured on a Snapshot Wisconsin camera.

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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.

Introducing New Team Member, Emily

Hi everyone,

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.

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Me during my fieldwork in Belize.

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!

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Fish checking out my submerged camera trap on the Bladen River.

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.

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See you out in the field and on the message boards!

Emily