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Citizen Science: The Scientific Process & Sampling. Idaho Master Naturalist Program Shane Roberts Wildlife Biologist Idaho Fish & Game. Overview. Scientific Method Types of scientific inquiry Common sampling methods What are they doing in that helicopter?

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citizen science the scientific process sampling

Citizen Science:The Scientific Process & Sampling

Idaho Master Naturalist Program

Shane Roberts

Wildlife Biologist

Idaho Fish & Game

overview
Overview
  • Scientific Method
  • Types of scientific inquiry
  • Common sampling methods
    • What are they doing in that helicopter?
  • Tips for citizen scientists & volunteers
scientific method
Scientific Method

Observation

  • Volunteers are often involved in one specific part of the process

but are also very important to other steps

Question

Hypothesis

Methods

Data Collection

Data Analysis

Conclusion

Communication

observation question hypothesis
Observation, Question, & Hypothesis
  • Question
    • Whole purpose of the process
    • Usually begins with an observation
  • Hypothesis
    • An educated guess
    • Must be testable & refutable
    • Aim is not to “prove”
research design
Research Design
  • What is the best way to test the hypothesis?
  • Designs
    • Observational
    • Case Study
    • Correlational
    • Differential
    • Experimental
    • Quasi-experimental
wildlife populations
Wildlife Populations
  • IDFG focuses on populations, not individuals
    • Exception – rare, endangered species
  • A population is a collection of inter-breeding organisms of a particular species that share a particular characteristic of interest, most often that of living in a given geographic area
    • Island Park elk
  • Can be defined in many ways
wildlife populations1
Wildlife Populations
  • Population estimation
  • BIDE formula

Nt+1 = Nt + pop growth

Pop growth = birth + immigration – death – emigration

  • Sampling seeks to provide estimates for these variables
methods
Methods
  • What exact things do you need to do to carry out the experiment?
    • Census or sampling?
      • Census usually impossible in wildlife biology
    • Sample size
      • Very important for reliable results
    • Protocols
    • Consistency and repeatability
sample size
Sample Size
  • Too large
    • Waste of time, $$$, resources
  • Too small
    • Bias results
    • Lack of “power”
  • Law of large numbers
sample size1
Sample Size
  • Sample
    • 0 Adult
    • 2 Raghorn
    • 4 Spike
  • Population
    • 2 Adult
    • 6 Raghorn
    • 10 Spike
sample size2
Sample Size
  • Sample
    • 2 Adult
    • 1 Raghorn
    • 1 Spike
  • Population
    • 2 Adult
    • 6 Raghorn
    • 10 Spike
sampling
Sampling
  • Subset of population used to make inferences about the population
  • Random
  • Systematic
  • Stratified random
    • Subpopulations within a population
  • Others
sampling1
Sampling
  • Transect sampling
    • Linear sample taken at numerous starting locations within the survey area
    • Common in small mammal surveys
  • Plot sampling
    • Areas sampled at numerous locations within the survey area
  • Common in vegetation surveys
      • Canopy cover, diversity, succession, noxious weeds
sampling2
Sampling
  • Vegetation
    • Robel pole (cover pole)
      • Vegetation structure and density
    • Daubenmire frame
      • Frequency, composition, % cover
    • 10-pin frame
      • Species frequency
    • Clipping
      • Biomass
    • Core sampling, fruit traps, and many others
sampling3
Sampling
  • Birds
    • Call & response survey
      • Presence, relative abundance
    • Point counts
      • Diversity, presence, relative abundance
    • Mist netting (birds & bats)
      • Diversity, presence, relative abundance
      • Species specific
      • Marking, measurements
    • Nest surveys
      • Presence, production
sampling4
Sampling
  • Fish
    • Electrofishing
      • Immobilize fish
      • Abundance, density, diversity
      • Species & size dependent
    • Snorkel surveys
      • Visual observations
      • Structure/habitat use
    • Netting & trapping
      • Certain species, size classes, behaviors
    • Structure passage (dam, weir)
      • Mark-recapture
sampling5
Sampling
  • Mammals
    • Trapping
      • Relative abundance, mark-recapture, collaring
    • Track & scat surveys
      • Snow, tracking medium
      • Diet analysis
    • Scent station or hair snare surveys
      • Secretive carnivores
      • DNA or marker
    • Visual surveys
      • Aerial, ground, spotlight…
sampling6
Sampling
  • Human Dimensions
    • Observations
      • Resource use
      • Information board use
    • Interviews
      • Telephone surveys
      • Face-to-face (public meetings, checkstations)
    • Questionnaires
      • Hunter report cards
      • Online reporting forms
      • Public comment opportunities
sampling idaho s game species
Sampling Idaho’s Game Species
  • Sampling constrained by:
    • Time
    • Weather
    • Logistics (e.g., pilot availability )
    • Manpower
    • $$$
    • Participation (checkstations, report cards, etc)
    • Animal behavior
  • Seek to maximize accuracy and thoroughness with the resources we have
sightability surveys
Model provides an estimate of visibility bias by incorporating environmental factors that the observers can not control:

Snow cover

Animal behavior

Vegetation type

Group size

And standardizing factors that they can control:

Flight speed

# of observers

Type of aircraft

Observer training

Sightability Surveys
  • Aerial survey + model of visibility bias
sightability surveys1
Sightability Surveys
  • Stratified sampling scheme
    • Abundance (habitat)
    • More time spent in better winter habitat
  • All portions of the zone/unit likely to harbor wintering deer or elk are sampled
  • Population estimate and composition
    • Pop estimate only for mule deer
  • 4-year rotation
mule deer composition surveys
Mule Deer Composition Surveys
  • Antler drop precludes pop estimate and comp simultaneously
  • Less detailed data, more frequent
  • 500-1000 total animals
  • Used to assess:
    • Composition of the population
      • Ratios – Males:Females:Young
      • Classes of males
    • Population direction
    • Effects of management
other aerial surveys
Other Aerial Surveys
  • Mountain Goats
    • Trend survey of known occupied habitat
    • Geographically restricted
  • Bighorn Sheep
    • Trend survey, working on sightability
  • Canada Geese, Swans, Waterfowl
    • Pair counts, mid-winter waterfowl
    • Assess reproduction and population trend
  • Grizzly Bears
    • Distribution & abundance
  • Sage-grouse
    • Lek surveys, wintering locations
other methods
Other Methods
  • Some species:
    • Aerial surveys inefficient
      • Difficult to see, low density, solitary
    • Funding not available
  • Moose
    • Aerial incidentals
    • Analysis of harvest success, antler spread, age
  • Black Bear & Mountain Lion
    • Analysis of harvest success, age
    • Scent station/post surveys
    • Snow track, hair snare surveys
other methods1
Other Methods
  • Bighorn Sheep
    • Aerial incidentals
    • Assessment of reproduction
    • Radio-collared subset
    • Disease monitoring
  • White-tailed Deer
    • Incidental aerials
    • Harvest data trends
other methods2
Other Methods
  • Pronghorn
    • Aerial incidentals
    • Harvest data analysis, horn measurements
  • Sage & Sharp-tailed Grouse
    • Lek route surveys
    • Harvest data
      • Checkstations
      • Wing data
  • Other upland game birds
    • Harvest data
    • Banding
other methods3
Other Methods
  • Waterfowl
    • Federally controlled
    • Harvest data analysis
      • Guidelines set by USFWS
    • Banding
  • Wolves
    • Extensively monitored (until relisting)
    • Population estimated from known packs, pack size, lone wolves
    • Future may move to a patch occupancy method
      • Tracks, scat, howling
sampling7
Sampling
  • Age
    • Tooth wear and replacement, cementum annuli, sexual development, size, coloration, plumage…
    • Population reconstruction
  • Reproduction
    • Sexual development, lactation, reproductive tracts
  • Size & Condition
    • Reproduction, survival, habitat, seasonal influence
marking animals
Marking Animals
  • Radio transmitters
    • Survival, cause-specific mortality, movements, habitat use, behavior, etc
    • Collars, glue-ons, tail tags, eartags, backpacks, internal
  • Bands (leg & neck) or tags
    • Harvest mortality
    • Movements
  • Physical marking
    • Paint, tatoo, PIT tag, eartag, fin clips, etc.
  • Chemical marking
    • Tetracycline
marking animals1
VHF collars

Manual tracking, labor intensive

“Beeps” on a certain frequency & pulse rate

Mortality sensor

Accuracy depends on terrain & data quality depends on effort

Cheap

GPS collars

Automatic tracking

Accurate locations

Frequent relocation (vegetation influence)

Expensive

Less labor

Remote programming & download

Many types…

Marking Animals
marking animals2
Marking Animals
  • Used for:
    • Mark-recapture population estimation
    • Population modeling
    • Harvest estimation
    • Life history, ecology, and behavior studies
    • Response to disturbances
    • Development and fine tuning of other, non-marking population estimation techniques
    • And many others…
data collection
Data Collection
  • Follow previously determined methods and protocol
    • Consistency helps validity and reliability
  • Thoroughness
    • Fill in all information
    • Blanks can be confusing
      • “0 is a number”, N/A, —
  • Notes/comments can be very helpful
data analysis conclusions
Data Analysis & Conclusions
  • Data analysis
    • Database development
    • Statistical analysis
    • Mapping
  • Conclusions
    • Disproving a hypothesis can be just as useful as supporting it
    • Often leads to additional research ideas
    • Can make science frustrating to some!
communication
Communication
  • Very important step!
  • Lack of communication leads to:
    • Unnecessary replication
    • Inefficient research & management
    • Confusion, misinformation
  • Professional literature, agency reports, online, newspaper, etc.
  • Volunteers important
    • Spread the word from personal experiences
being a good citizen scientist volunteer
Being a Good Citizen Scientist & Volunteer
  • Detailed documentation!!!!
    • Numbers, dates, weather…
    • If in doubt, write it down
  • Ask questions before, during (depending on situation), and after the operation
    • Equipment, duration, dangers…
    • Some operations are time & noise sensitive
  • Let someone know where, when, what
  • Good attitude & patience
global positioning system gps
Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • Extremely useful tool!
  • Take waypoints (“Mark” or pushpin button)
    • Label appropriately
    • Mark important locations
    • Truck or departure point
    • Track your progress
      • Many newer models track automatically
  • Learn how to use the “GOTO” tool
  • Ask for help!
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