Problem: when a researcher goes out to photograph wild animals, he or she scares away the animals. Solution: place unmanned “camera traps”—remotely activated cameras—in the wild.
That’s the idea behind eMammal, a citizen science project that has been documenting mammalian life throughout the mid-Atlantic region, including on and around the NC State campus as part of the Wolfpack Citizen Science Challenge. Researchers and community members alike have been placing camera traps across the natural landscape, recording hundreds of animals so far. The Smithsonian Institution and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences are research partners on the project.
The Wolfpack Citizen Science Challenge announces its results in an event in the Teaching and Visualization Lab at the Hunt Library today, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. Project lead Roland Kays, a professor and researcher in NC State’s Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, will be joined by student participants in the challenge.
“We had about 30 teams run cameras on campus,” Kays says. “This campus project is actually our most urban site to date. Over the last couple of years we’ve been trying to involve teams running cameras along the gradient between developments, along urban to suburban to rural to wild. This Wolfpack Challenge anchors the most urban part of that gradient for us.”
eMammal will continue to expand, according to Kays. “Over the course of three years, we’re trying to get 20,000-30,000 camera points across the state, which would be the largest camera trap study ever.”
As part of that expansion, the NCSU Libraries has now launched its eMammal Lite app, which crowdsources animal identification expertise on a database of camera trap images from North America as well as locales as far-flung as Mexico, India, and Africa. Walt Gurley, a Visualization and Digital Media Librarian, developed the app with former NCSU Libraries Graphic Designer student employee Maris Hall.
Registered users see images of animals from all over the world and click the name of the animal from among several choices. Users can keep track of their identifications progress and compare their stats with other users. Eventually, the app will be integrated into a display in the iPearl Immersion Theater in the Hunt Library.
Register to use the free eMammal Lite app here: https://eml.lib.ncsu.edu/.