Conservation Field Diaries

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April 21, 2015
Five Years of Urban Wildlife Biodiversity Monitoring

Sometimes big ideas take a long time.

We knew what we wanted to do when we launched the Urban Wildlife Institute a little over five years ago—help create a world where humans and wildlife could co-exist in cities. Simple, right?

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November 19, 2014
Close Up on Camera Traps

Dozens of “camera traps” in the Republic of Congo’s remote Goualougo Triangle let zoo scientists record how chimpanzees use tools in the wild.

November 14, 2014
Chicago Canine Close-Up

Many of the predatory mammals that live in and around Chicago are canids (a biological family including coyotes, foxes, wolves, domestic dogs and more.). These are among the species we see at the Urban Wildlife Institute as we sort through the more than 1 million photos of local wildlife we’ve gathered through the Urban Wildlife Biodiversity Monitoring Project.

November 6, 2014
Taking the Pledge to Protect Polar Bears

A month ago today I left the temperate Chicago fall weather (this was before that freak Halloween snow!) for a journey to the subarctic. I’m still trying to process the experience and make sense of the things I learned and saw while walking a mile or two in a polar bear’s steps.

October 23, 2014
Heads Up on Local Wildlife

If you’ve logged in to Chicago Wildlife Watch and are entering data from our Urban Wildlife Biodiversity Monitoring project, you’ve noticed we’re collecting information on the species, the number of individuals and the presence of young in more than 1 million photos of Chicago wildlife. This information helps us understand what types of habitat Chicago’s urban wildlife prefers and how that might change over time.

October 15, 2014
Spotting Bears on the Tundra

This was the third day we’d spent on the tundra looking for polar bears. As I mentioned previously, we saw eight bears on our first day, but they were mostly far away. Yesterday, we were thrilled to get some closer images, including a mother and two cubs not 50 feet from us.

October 14, 2014
Teaming Up for Red Wolves

As summer gave way to fall at the end of September, I headed south to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with a few of my colleagues from Lincoln Park Zoo’s Conservation and Science Department. And while the weather was absolutely gorgeous for our week in the Tar Heel State, we weren’t there to relax on the beach. No, we were there to do science to support conservation!

October 9, 2014
What Kind of Squirrel Is That?

The chances you’ve come across a photo of a squirrel in five minutes or less on Chicago Wildlife Watch is astronomical. This makes some sense, as squirrels are the most photographed species throughout our survey.

October 8, 2014
Fellowship on the Tundra

It turns out getting to Churchill, Manitoba, is a remarkably challenging process. You literally cannot drive here, so your two options are to take the train or fly. The train sounds picturesque, and I’m sure it is, but it will take you 52 hours to make the trip!

October 3, 2014
Bound for Polar Bear Town

I’m not the kind of girl who owns long underwear. Considering I’ve spent most of my career teaching children and families about nature, it’s kind of ironic that I don’t spend more time outdoors. But I’ve recently bought my first set of “base layer” clothing (the updated version of long underwear) in anticipation of my upcoming journey to polar bear town: Churchill, Manitoba.

October 2, 2014
Field Work in the City

When you think of an ecologist or biologist working in the field, your mind summons up images of expansive and remote natural environments, far from even the smallest town, Wi-Fi signal or coffee shop. You think of the days of travel it takes to get there, logistics, bug spray and how bright the stars must be without all that light pollution.

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