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Mountain goat molt from community photographs

Citation

Nowak, Katarzyna et al. (2020), Mountain goat molt from community photographs , Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.8w9ghx3k3

Abstract

Participatory approaches, such as community photography, can engage the public in questions of societal and scientific interest while helping advance understanding of ecological patterns and processes. We combined data extracted from community-sourced, spatially-explicit photographs with research findings from 2018 fieldwork in the Yukon, Canada, to evaluate winter coat molt patterns and phenology in mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus), a cold-adapted, alpine mammal. Leveraging the community science portals iNaturalist and CitSci, in less than a year we amassed a database of almost seven hundred unique photographs spanning some 4500 kms between latitudes 37.6°N and 61.1°N from 0m to 4333m elevation. Using statistical methods accounting for incomplete data, a common issue in community science data sets, we identified the effects of intrinsic (sex and presence of offspring) and broad environmental (latitude and elevation) factors on molt onset and rate and compared our findings with published data. Shedding occurred over a 3-month period between May 29 and September 6. Effects of sex and offspring on the timing of molt were consistent between the community-sourced and our Yukon data and with findings on wild mountain goats at a long-term research site in west-central Alberta, Canada. Males molted first, followed by females without offspring (4.4 days later in the coarse-grained, geographically-wide community science sample; 29.2 days later in our fine-grained Yukon sample) and lastly females with new kids (6.2; 21.2 days later, respectively). Shedding was later at higher elevations and faster at northern latitudes. Our findings establish a basis for employing community photography to examine broad-scale questions about the timing of ecological events, as well as sex differences in response to possible climate drivers. In addition, community photography can help inspire public participation in environmental and outdoor activities specifically with reference to iconic wildlife. 

Methods

Photographs were collected through crowd-sourcing, camera-trapping and taking photos of mountain goats.

Please see the manuscript and html files for detail.

Usage Notes

Longitude has been obscured for privacy reasons.

Funding

National Park Service

Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

Wildlife Conservation Society