Snapshot Wisconsin – Audio

This podcast was originally published in April 2014.

Phil Townsend, Professor
Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 262-1669

3:03 – Total Time

0:19 – What Snapshot Wisconsin is
0:56 – How it will work
1:18 – Snapshot Wisconsin goals
2:09 – Animal species of special interest
2:35 – Where to get more information
2:53 – Lead out


Sevie Kenyon: Phil, tell us what Snapshot Wisconsin is.

Phil Townsend: Snapshot Wisconsin is a citizen science effort to try and quantify wildlife distributions across the state of Wisconsin.

Sevie Kenyon: And how are you going to go about doing that?

Phil Townsend: Well, we’ve basically got two things going on. One is in conjunction with the DNR. We’re going to establish two to four thousand trail cameras across the state that will be set up to take pictures of animals when they trigger (an) infrared switch. We’ll then put the photos up on a website that’ll be called Snapshot Wisconsin, and crowd source the interpretation of what animals are there.

Sevie Kenyon: Can you describe how that will work?

Phil Townsend: You would go to a webpage and it would bring up a picture, and you would click what animal you see. So if you see a deer, you would click deer, and then it might ask you “How many deer?” and you might say two or four, or one. And then it collects information about that and we essentially build a database of the types of animals that are in different places.

Sevie Kenyon: And Phil, why are you doing this project?

Phil Townsend: We’ve got three objectives. One objective is to simply get better understanding of where animals are. The second objective is then to use that information to develop maps of the distribution of these animals to model where they are through time across the different seasons and as the seasons change, and with different land cover patterns. The third part of this is that we’re working with NASA . And NASA is really interested in linking information about different things that we care about to NASA’s satellite imagery that provides context, that provides maps of the land cover and the different things that might be controlling where animals go and how they use the landscape. And so the idea is that we can put this data with the NASA data, and be able to better make maps and understand why animals are where they are.

Sevie Kenyon: Are there certain species that are getting more attention than others?

Phil Townsend: Well certainly in Wisconsin we’re concerned about the distribution of deer. We’re also interested in knowing bear, certainly grey wolves; bobcats are another animal that we would really like to know where they are. There’ll be lots and lots of cameras out throughout the forest state, and whatever animal triggers one of these cameras, we’ll get a picture of it. We’ll find out about all animals that are found in these places.

Sevie Kenyon: Phil where can people go or more information?

Phil Townsend: So one can look at Snapshot Wisconsin with the DNR. And to kind of get an idea of the look and feel of what we’re doing, I would direct people to look at Snapshot Serengeti. That’s a similar setup in the Serengeti, and the people who develop Snapshot Serengeti are helping us develop our webpage.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Phil Townsend, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, Wisconsin, and I am Sevie Kenyon.

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