Mobile Apps in Conservation Science

ROOM: Room 120 – Dona Ana
The sheer number of mobile applications available to the conservation professional can be overwhelming, but these applications are rapidly replacing GPS units and data sheets as the tools of the 21st century biologist. Mobile apps can play a key role in data collection and field mapping, acquiring large quantities of data with efficiency and accuracy. Our goal is to discuss several mobile apps and their use in the field, thereby better informing professionals and facilitating their selection of the platform that is the best fit for their research and data collection needs.

1:10PM The Utilization of Cybertracker for Resource Management in Texas
  Jason A. Estrella
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1:30PM 21st Century Wildlife Management: Data Collection Using Mobile Applications
  Bronson Strickland; Steve Demarais; Jason Price
Traditional methods of data collection for big-game management often rely on harvest data. While harvest data provide useful information regarding age structure, animal condition, and even population dynamics, harvest records often lack measures of hunting effort, especially on private lands. The historical methods of data collection using post-season, hunter-submitted, paper reports can be replaced by smartphone technologies that allow real-time data entry by hunters and negates the need for state wildlife agency personnel to enter data post-season. Our application allows individuals or groups to identify hunting properties and hunt locations using maps on their mobile device. The resulting hunt data can be analyzed both spatially and temporally by hunters to learn when and where hunting has been most successful, and by state wildlife agencies to monitor hunter effort on private and public lands. Individual and group data are password protected. Biologists access reports online that summarize data at county, region, and state levels. Examples of data generated and subsequent reports from the 2016-17 hunting season will be discussed. We envision this form of hunter-citizen science as a critical component of 21st century wildlife management.
1:50PM Mobile Apps in the Classroom: Preparing the Next Generation
  Ken Boykin
Smart Phone technology provides the opportunity to capture citizen science data along the way can be beneficial to conservation in multiple ways. New MexicoView is part of AmericaView, a nationwide partnership of scientists who are familiar with remote-sensing and support its application in grades K – 12, college courses, workforce development and technology transfer. We have been using remote sensing and apps such as Field Photo (from the Earth Observation Modeling Facility at the University of Oklahoma) and others to demonstrate how citizen science data can be used in an educational and research platform. Students learn how to document information on local land cover and contribute the data to the NASA and USGS Adopt a Pixel program. NASA scientists then use the students’ data to verify satellite images and image based land cover classifications. Land cover maps play an important role in many wildlife-related activities, including species distribution maps, restoration efforts, and fire modeling.
2:10PM Using Citizen Science to Guide Management and Public Engagement
  Sam Kieschnick
How can the public help guide conservation management? The naturalist community can become a powerful asset when combined with citizen science. iNaturalist is a citizen science tool that implements the crowd sourcing power of naturalists and scientists to identify and document global biodiversity. This mobile app integrates a social network of naturalists to generate more public interest in nature. It can also be used to locate and map species of greatest conservation need and identify threats to these populations. This tool has been widely used in conducting bioblitzes, an intense period of time where participants document all species in a specific area and time frame. iNaturalist inspires an instinct of exploration and may guide future generations of naturalists and biologists. Urban biologists should consider implementing a BioBlitz for both public engagement and for citizen science data collection.
2:30PM An App for Mapping Invasive Plants By Citizen Scientists in Texas
  Hans Landel
The Invaders of Texas program is designed to train citizen scientists to identify invasive plants and submit locations to a web-based database. The citizen scientists can use our mobile app, Texas Invasives, to easily submit observations and photos. The validated data are available on the website, and also become part of the EDDMapS national database. The Invaders of Texas invasive plant citizen scientist database is available for download for use by interested parties, such as for invasive plant management. The observations can be mapped on using a mapping tool. The app also contains a database of profiles of invasive organisms in Texas, and allows anyone to submit observations of species of regulatory concern as part of our Early Detection Rapid Response network, the Sentinel Pest Network.
2:50PM Refreshment Break
3:20PM Cybertracker and Survey123: Pros and Cons for Use in White-Tailed Deer Distance Sampling
  Cristy Burch
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) conducts annual distance sampling of its white-tailed deer population. There are approximately 150 staff that conduct surveys across the majority of Texas’ 254 counties. The wide geographical distribution of staff, range of their technical knowledge and limited state budgets pose challenges when designing a digital survey protocol. TPWD has used Cybertracker (Android/Windows) for several years and is now trying ESRI’s Survey123 (Android, Windows and iOS) for offline-capable field surveys. TPWD staff predominately use Android devices for field data collection, recently making the swap from tablets to smartphones. This presentation will briefly outline the pros and cons of using two popular survey applications, Cybertracker and Survey123, for white-tailed deer surveys in Texas.
3:40PM Interagency Field Data Collection Using Collector for ArcGIS
  Julie Mikolajczyk
The recovery of the Mexican Wolf in the United States is managed on a daily basis by an Interagency Field Team (IFT) from a variety of state, federal, and tribal organizations. The remote location of the reintroduction area in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico, along with the fact that the field crew is often working in distributed locations without continual wifi or cellular service presented a problem for keeping an up-to-date, centralized database of spatial and non-spatial information needed to manage the recovery of this species. This presentation will describe efforts of the IFT, led by staff from the Arizona Game and Fish Department, to create a set of tools that enable online or offline data collection and visualization across IFT members, other personnel, and the public. The system is built on the ArcGIS platform using both ArcGIS Online hosted and ArcGIS Server services. Components implemented include a SQL Server database on an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), Collector for ArcGIS for data collection, Web AppBuilder for public access to recent wolf locations, and other aspects such as Dashboard, ArcGIS Online, and ArcGIS Pro to round out the implementation.
4:00PM Birding By Day, Batting By Night: Two Mobile Apps from Wildlife Acoustics Help Citizen Scientists and Nature Enthusiasts Identify and Learn About Local Bird and Bat Species
  Sherwood Snyder
A new breed of mobile apps will be described and demonstrated that allow both professionals and citizen scientists to automatically identify bird or bat species from their vocalizations. Wildlife Acoustics has developed Song Sleuth and Echo Meter Touch apps which leverage their professional classification algorithms, ten years in the making, to identify birds and bats respectively. Echo Meter Touch was developed three years ago and was the first bat recorder available for a mobile platform. It cost a small fraction of the cost of existing equipment while providing features not possible on dedicated hardware, such as automatic identification of bat species based on echolocation calls. Now the second generation reduces that price even further to make the technology accessible to non-professionals as well. This app has the potential to create a new class of bat citizen scientists, providing a treasure trove of data that could be used by scientist to understand bats range and behavior, much like platforms such as eBird have done for birds. Wildlife Acoustics also recently released Song Sleuth, an app which uses some of the same recognition technology to identify birds from their songs. Song Sleuth is an affordable app, requires no special hardware and has an easy to use interface for beginners and powerful tools for experts. It has everything one needs to learn birding by ear, it is a paradigm shift in how bird songs are learned. Previously, listening to recorded birds and learning mnemonic devices to remember the songs in the field was the only path. This app provides instant species matches after hearing a bird and aural feedback on the spot as well as unique ways to browse and compare example recordings anywhere.
4:20PM Digital Technology and the Modern Conservation Professional: Are We Bleeding the Soul and More of Natural History Study?
  Dave Holdermann
Field observation, the cornerstone of 19th and 20th century natural history study, was based on direct contact with nature and human sensory perception. Today new forms of digital technology are steering conservation/wildlife biologists away from direct contact with nature and rapidly changing the processes of how humans use auditory-visual-cognitive capacities to relate to nature and to formulate insights and approaches to critical biological issues. Arts et al. (2015) and others have reviewed the many positive contributions that digital technologies have brought to the study and conservation of nature. Yet, I pose the question: is the seemingly contemporary dominance of digital technologies “bleeding the soul” and more of our profession’s connection to nature? Based on a 40-year career, I reflect on the benefits of direct field observations of nature, and why I think it is imperative that contemporary and future generations of professional biologists reinsert a greater level of direct observation into the study and conservation of nature.

Organizers: Jason A. Estrella, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Tyler, TX; Virginia Seamster, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, Santa Fe, NM
Supported by: TWS Geospatial Advisory Committee-Southwest Section, TWS Southwest Section

Location: Albuquerque Convention Center Date: September 27, 2017 Time: 1:10 pm - 5:00 pm