zoe jewell & sky alibhai

WildTrack (wildtrack.org) is a non-profit dedicated to developing and implementing better ways of monitoring endangered species.

Our methods are all non-invasive, and cost-effective - they allow us to monitor biodiversity without harming or disturbing it. Our footprint identification technique (FIT), which runs on JMP data visualization software from the SAS Institute, can identify animals from their footprints, by species, individual, age-class and sex.

iNaturalist is a natural fit for WildTrack. We'll soon be posting a photo protocol and asking for trackers and naturalists to send us images of footprints. Using FIT we'll identify animals and iNaturalist will be able to map their ranges. Contributors will be able to actively 'track' their animals online completely non-invasively.

Our colleagues in the Pimm Lab, Duke University, who map landscapes and look at the 'big picture' in conservation, will be able to use these data to formulate effective conservation strategies. For example, footprints collected opportunistically by citizen scientists from Sichuan province in China could help the Chinese authorities prioritize landscape protection for Giant Panda, and hikers in Texas might contribute mountain lion trails to provide Texas Parks and Wildlife with vital data on distribution. The potential for nature-lovers to contribute is just huge.

We're also working with electrical engineers at NC State University to develop faster and more automated means of image capture and manipulation, which could also be tested and refined with the help of citizen scientists around the world.

For more information please contact zoe jewell at info@wildtrack.org

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