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Saturday with a Scientist: Animal Tracking
Saturday | December 08, 2018 , 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Come meet scientists working on various research projects involving animal tracking.
The Minnesota Wildlife Tracking Project is dedicated to sharing the art and science of wildlife tracking, with the goal to help people connect with nature in their own neighborhoods. They are also working to develop a network of volunteer trackers who can monitor the abundance and distribution of wolves and other species of special interest throughout the state. Jonathan Poppele is a naturalist, author and educator who works to help people connect more deeply to themselves, to others, and to the natural world. He earned a master’s degree in Conservation Biology from the University of Minnesota studying citizen science and ways to cultivate a personal relationship with the nature and taught at the U of M for many years before leaving to focus on his own projects. Jon is the founder and director of the Minnesota Wildlife Tracking Project. He will be talking about methods of following animal tracks.
UMN graduate student Sarah Huebner has conducted research on prairie restorations and population genetics of pocket gophers. She currently studies the complex mechanisms by which megafauna such as lions and elephants interact with each other and their ecosystems, and how those mechanisms are modified by human activities. Sarah and fellow graduate student Abby Guthman will present SnapshotSafari, a collaborative network of camera-trap grids in wildlife parks and reserves throughout Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, with sites from Kenya, Malawi, and Rwanda coming online soon. By using the same data collection protocols at each protected area, they are evaluating how well wildlife are faring under different management strategies, providing valuable information to researchers and reserve managers. SnapshotSafari relies on online volunteers (“citizen scientists”) to classify thousands of images of wildlife photographed by cameras uniformly dispersed throughout each protected area, providing a glimpse into the lives of endangered species and the distribution of wildlife across many landscapes. Abby Guthman has extensive experience with camera trapping, collaring, and radio telemetry, and she has assisted projects studying felids in Belize, mesocarnivores in Los Angeles, and black bears in North Carolina. Her current research focuses on how cattle management strategies may affect ecosystem health and human-wildlife conflict mitigation in Kenya.
Margaret Dexter, a Natural Resources Specialist for the the MN Department of Natural Resources will share her research findings. Dexter has worked with the Wildlife Health Program testing deer and elk for bovine tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease in various parts of the state. She also assisted in a 5 year study aimed at determining the cause for the decline in Minnesota’s moose population.