Oral presentation- Workshop 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Managing volunteers and staff effectively for a distributed network of camera traps (#22)

William McShea 1 , Roland Kays 2 , Tavis Forrester 3 , Robert Costello 4 , Megan Whatton 5 , Jen Zhao 1 , Arielle Parsons 2
  1. Smithsonian Institution, Front Royal, Virginia, United States of America
  2. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, North Carolina, United States of America
  3. Department of Fish and Wildlife, La Grande, Oregon, United States of America
  4. National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America
  5. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia, United States of America

Camera trapping projects focused on data collection across broad landscapes experience limits of data management and staff coordination. eMammal facilitates three parts of this process; staff/volunteer coordination, quality control of metadata including animal IDs, and providing training, feedback and support to volunteers. The work flow is effective for professional staff, but is especially designed for volunteers who are distributed across multiple locations. Using the eMammal website, the Project Manager registers volunteers, verifies they have completed online training and testing, and assigns deployments. Field staff or volunteers use a desktop application to upload data and images to a cloud-based site (Amazon Cloud Services) where expert review is required before data flows into a curated repository. We have adapted the expert review process to sort images by species (for review by species-specific experts from outside project) or feed images into a crowd-sourcing platform (Zooniverse) prior to expert review. At the conclusion of the expert review, the volunteer receives an email with total detections, favorite images and notice of incorrect identifications. During a project in the eastern US volunteers improved their ID accuracy with subsequent deployments, achieved accuracy rates equal to paid staff, and increased their knowledge and interest in local mammals. each project within eMammal has the capacity to conduct a discussion thread and a blog post for project members. Maintaining communication with volunteers is essential to sustaining interest among a broadly distributed network of volunteers.