Rumor has it that summer is around the corner, which is the perfect time to sign up for a Snapshot Wisconsin trail camera! Do you have access to public land or a private property at least 10 acres in size? A computer with internet? The ability to participate for a least a year? If you answered yes to these questions, congrats – you are already qualified! If you are thinking “But why should I apply?”, here are 10 commonly quoted reasons by our volunteers and project staff:
1. It’s free!
We provide all necessary equipment (including a Bushnell camera), training, technical support and replacements at NO cost! No previous experience is required, we are happy to teach you!
2. Use your trail camera see up close pictures of wildlife.
Feed your curiosity and learn what is on your property and public lands.
3. Hosting a trail camera is a great excuse to get out into the woods.
And we’ll remind you to check your camera every three months. That way you’ll head outdoors in all seasons and be on track with the program.
4. Contribute to wildlife monitoring.
Photos collected through Snapshot Wisconsin are turned into important data used for supporting wildlife management decisions at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
5. Interact with the researchers.
Volunteers interact with the Snapshot Wisconsin research team at various outreach events, both in person and online. We also visit various groups across the state talking about the project and are available for questions on call or email.
6. Be in the know – get regular updates on data collected.
7. Socialize with other volunteers.
Our volunteers meet other citizen science enthusiasts at trainings, outreach and volunteer appreciation events. Discussions at these events can range from how the last hunting season went to secret birding locations, Packer football and so on.
Apart from the events, our Zooniverse forum allows you to interact with more 6500 volunteers from across the globe with the one thing that binds them all – interest in Wisconsin’s charismatic wildlife through the lens of a trail camera.
8. Improve your wildlife identification skills.
We provide a web-interface MySnapshot for volunteers to classify and view their pictures. Our Zooniverse forum is also a way to classify the pictures from across the state.
9. Educational outlet for students or nature center visitors.
Hundreds of educators participate in Snapshot Wisconsin. Snapshot Wisconsin is a great avenue to take your class outdoors and to bring the outdoors back into the classroom. Many nature centers also participate in Snapshot Wisconsin and are a great outlet for information on Wisconsin’s wildlife.
10. Provides an opportunity to bridge nature and technology.
Snapshot Wisconsin provides a great opportunity to bridge nature and technology. Trail cameras are non-invasive and providing a wealth of data about the secretive critters of Wisconsin. It’s a great technology for the good, connecting people and nature.
Convinced yet? Signup here: www.SnapshotWISignup.org!
Do you have a few more questions? Contact us at DNRSnapshotWisconsin@Wisconsin.org
May’s Volunteer of the Month is
Chris from Portage County!
May’s Volunteer of the Month goes to Chris from Portage County! Chris is a Professor of Biology at UW-Stevens Point. Chris was first introduced to citizen science around 10 years ago through the Wisconsin Bat Program. In collaboration with the Urban Ecology Center and Milwaukee area high school teachers, Chris has since developed a bat curriculum that incorporates citizen science, or as it is known in Milwaukee, community science.
Chris first discovered the Zooniverse platform about two years ago, which led him to learn about Snapshot Wisconsin. After he began hosting his own trail camera, Chris stated that he was initially annoyed by a fawn that rested in front of his camera resulting in hundreds of photos (which we are sure many volunteer have experienced!) Chris’s “aha moment” was then realizing how interesting the data collected about that fawn was – time alert, sleeping, stretching, foraging.
When asked about his advice for potential volunteers, Chris shared, “There are lots of citizen science projects, but Snapshot Wisconsin does a great job of motivating its volunteers. Start with Zooniverse. Snapshot Wisconsin was a pioneer project on this global platform and will connect you immediately to Wisconsin wildlife. If you are hooked by Snapshot like I was, you can consider hosting your own camera and become a small part of a big thing.”
Thank you, Chris! Thank you to all our trail camera hosts and Zooniverse volunteers for helping us discover our wildlife together.
Are you ready to celebrate Citizen Science Day?
Before we dive into the details, let’s start with what is citizen science? There are many definitions for citizen science, which may also be referred to as community science, crowd-sourced science or volunteer monitoring. The Oxford English Dictionary defines citizen science as,
“Scientific work undertaken by members of the general public, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional scientists and scientific institutions.”
Citizen scientists partaking in Snapshot Wisconsin monitor trail cameras across to state to gather year-round data about wildlife. Data collected from the project help inform wildlife management decisions at the WDNR, and also engage the public in learning about the state’s natural resources. Snapshot Wisconsin has over one thousand volunteers hosting trail cameras across the state, and hundreds more from around the globe helping to identify the wildlife caught on camera on Zooniverse.
Citizen Science Day is hosted annually to celebrate and recognize the projects, researchers, and dedicated volunteers that contribute to citizen science all over the world. Mark your calendars for April 13th, this year’s Citizen Science Day kick-off! The Citizen Science Association and SciStarter have teamed up to promote events in celebration of citizen science. Are you interested in celebrating Citizen Science Day this year? Check out SciStarter’s project finder to find Citizen Science Day events near you!
You can celebrate citizen science any day of the year by participating in Snapshot Wisconsin, whether you are interested in hosting a trail camera or identifying the exciting critters captured on camera (which can be done from anywhere!)
The following post is by a guest blogger, Eva Lewandowski, the Citizen-based Monitoring Program Coordinator at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Thank you, Eva!
The Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring (WCBM) Network is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year! Citizen-based monitoring, a form of citizen science, is the participation of volunteers in the long-term monitoring of our natural resources. In 2004, over a century of successes in volunteer efforts had demonstrated their utility for research, conservation management, regulation, and education throughout the state. This led DNR staff to explore ways to link together the many organizations and individuals involved in citizen-based monitoring programs. Partnering with organizations such as UW-Extension, Wisconsin Wetlands Association, Beaver Creek Reserve, and more, they organized and held the first Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring Conference in 2004, which was attended by over 120 people.
One of the major takeaways from the conference was the need for a statewide infrastructure to facilitate networking opportunities, the sharing of resources, funding, and communication within Wisconsin’s growing citizen-based monitoring community. Attendees decided that the next step should be to form a statewide group, and the WCBM Network was born!
The WCBM Network’s mission is to improve the effectiveness of volunteer efforts that monitor our plants, animals, waters, and habitats. It supports these efforts by offering resources for volunteers, project staff, researchers, land managers, and other members of the citizen-based monitoring community. The network’s website offers a searchable directory of monitoring projects and groups, an event calendar, and resources for starting a citizen-based monitoring project, selecting monitoring protocols, and even finding equipment and funding. Conferences, trainings, and frequent communications help the WCBM Network’s partners network and stay up to date on the latest news and resources.
Snapshot Wisconsin is proud to be a partner of the WCBM Network. Other partners in the WCBM Network include projects like the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, the Wisconsin Turtle Conservation Program, and the Rare Plant Monitoring Program. Many organizations are also partners, including DNR, the Wisconsin Master Naturalists, and nature centers throughout the state.
You can help celebrate the WCBM at 15 anniversary by learning about the history of citizen-based monitoring in Wisconsin and by pledging to volunteer your time for one of the state’s many monitoring projects at wiatri.net/cbm.
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.
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!
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.