Sky Island FotoFauna

Help build a larger network of wildlife cameras by observing the seasonal movements of Sky Island species in the U.S. and Mexico.

Set up a wildlife camera, submit an online monthly FotoFauna checklist of the species you observe, and help Sky Island Alliance and its partners study when and where wildlife is present seasonally so we can better protect their habitats and pathways.

 

 

Collaborating FotoFauna partners include: Arizona Center for Nature Conservation/Phoenix Zoo, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Arizona Trail Association, Borderlands Restoration Network, Coronado National Memorial, Pollinator Corridors Southwest, Profauna, Saguaro National Park, Sky Island Alliance, The Nature Conservancy Arizona, Tohono Chul, Rancho El Aribabi, Universidad de la Sierra, Watershed Management Group, and Wildlands Network.

Link to FotoFauna Survey

Sky Island FotoFauna harnesses the sampling power of volunteer-operated wildlife cameras that keep watch for wildlife on the move throughout the Sky Island region. Every monthly FotoFauna checklist and photo submission gives us a clearer picture of when and where wildlife is moving across the Sky Islands. By combining the FotoFauna checklist data we receive on species presence, we will be able to measure:

  • The seasonal changes in wildlife movement by checking for migratory species like the lesser long-nosed bat, elf owl, turkey vulture, and gray hawk.
  • The success of urban-adapted species–like coyote, bobcat, greater roadrunner, desert cottontail, and striped skunk–, that live near human development.
  • The landscape accessible to wide-ranging species–like mountain lions, black bears, pronghorns, mule deer, and white-tailed deer– that require connected Sky Island habitats.
  • The persistence of species unique to the Sky Island region including the antelope jackrabbit, Gould’s turkey, and Gila monster.
  • The northern range limit of subtropical species including the white-nosed coati, North Mexican Virginia opossum, javelina, hooded skunk, and hog-nosed skunk.
  • The presence of species that need undeveloped open space to thrive including the ringtail, American badger, and Western spotted skunk.

Interested in joining FotoFauna? See our guide below on how to set up a wildlife camera, recognize and identify Sky Island indicator species, and submit your monthly checklist.  The top FotoFauna photographs submitted by December 11, 2020 will be eligible for our Best of FotoFauna yearend photo competition. Winners will be selected live on December 17, 2020 at 9:30am MST during a virtual Coffee Break presentation of the best 2020 wildlife photos from FotoFauna.

Even if you cannot manage your own camera, we invite you to sponsor a wildlife camera that students in the U.S. and Mexico can borrow to participate in FotoFauna. Your generous gift will also help staff and students build a strong wildlife monitoring network in the U.S. and Mexico, train new participants in the field and support our continued efforts to protect and preserve the habitat for all our beloved species in the Sky Island regions.

Sponsor a Wildlife Camera 

Getting Started:

  1. Set up a wildlife camera in your corner of the Sky Island region and note the location (you will be able to determine the latitude and longitude on a map built into the survey form).
  2. Continuously maintain your wildlife camera by making sure the batteries are replaced when voltage is low and swapping out camera memory cards before they fill up.
  3. Review your wildlife photos at the end of each month and save one photograph for each species on the checklist that was observed by your camera:
    1. The FotoFauna survey will relabel your photo once uploaded, so you can label the photos in any that is helpful to you. Just to stay organized each month, we recommend using a file name that includes a unique camera identification, month/year, and species. For example, we use photo file names like this: Wash1_Oct_2020_Bobcat.jpg.
    2. If your camera observed the same species more than once, you will only need to submit one of the photos to confirm that species was present during the survey month.
    3. If you’d like to contribute other notable species you observe or additional interesting wildlife photos from your camera each month, there is room to add this to your checklist prior to submitting it.
    4. To help keep track of the checklist species detected during the month of observation, use this OPTIONAL notes forms to record the photo file name and date for easier reference when submitting later in the month. These note files are for your own records only and we will not collect them. Download the Printable PDF Spreadsheet: FotoFauna Data Input Table
  4. Every month, please submit one survey per camera:
    1. Fill out your name and contact information.
    2. Fill out information about the camera location and site description.
    3. Indicate whether each species on the checklist was detected on your camera for the month or not.
    4. Submit at least one photo per species that was detected so we can confirm your identification.
  5. If you detect other notable species that you would like to share that are not on the checklist, upload these images with an informational caption.
  6. If you have any extra fun wildlife photographs that you would like to share, upload these images with an informational caption.
  7. Allow Sky Island Alliance to use your submitted photographs in communications to be eligible for FotoFauna photo competitions.
  8. See the FAQs below from additional tips and information.

Link to FotoFauna Survey

Project Contact: Zoe Fullem, Community Science Manager (zoe@skyislandalliance.org)

 

Click here to watch the Introduction to Sky Island FotoFauna: Virtual Coffee Break

 

Species Image Gallery:

Sub-Tropical Species

Expand the button below to see images of the hog-nosed skunk, hooded skunk, javelina, Virginia opossum – Mexican subspecies, and the white-nosed coati. Hover over each image to view a short description of that species.







Endemic to the Region

Expand the button below to see images of the Antelope jackrabbit, Gila monster, and Gould’s turkey. Hover over each image to view a short description of that species.





Wide-Ranging Species

Expand the button below to see images of the black bear, mountain lion, mule deer, pronghorn, and white-tailed deer. Hover over each image to view a short description of that species.









Migratory Species

Expand the button below to see images of the elf owl, gray hawk, lesser long-nosed bat, and turkey vulture. Hover over each image to view a short description of that species.






Species Sensitive to Development

Expand the button below to see images of the American badger, ringtail, and western spotted skunk. Hover over each image to view a short description of that species.





Urban-Adapted Species

Expand the button below to see images of the bobcat, Cooper’s hawk, coyote, desert cottontail, Gambel’s quail, greater roadrunner, gray fox, striped skunk. Hover over each image to view a short description of that species.









 

Guide to Identifying Difficult Mammals – Saguaro National Park

Frequently Asked Questions:

Camera Set-Up

What type of camera should I use for FotoFauna?

    What type of camera should I use for FotoFauna?

    FotoFauna accepts observations from any continuously operating camera that detects the motion and/or heat signature of animals. If you’d like recommendations on cameras, please read our blog: How to Find the Right Backyard Wildlife Camera for You

    Where can I buy a wildlife camera?

    We recommend buying your camera through TrailCamPro.com because their online camera reviews thoroughly describe the performance differences between various camera models. They quickly answer camera questions and are skilled at troubleshooting camera performance issues. Contact Zoe Fullem (zoe@skyislandalliance.org) to receive a TrailCamPro discount code for your FotoFauna camera purchase.

    Do I need to leave a camera in the same place or can I move it around each month?

    Cameras should be left in the same location for the entire monthly reporting period. To facilitate our study of changes over time, it is helpful to keep cameras in the same location for multiple seasons. However, as long as you report the actual camera location for the camera each month, then your data will help map the distribution of each species even if the camera location changes between months.

    Can I put a camera on land I don’t own?

    All cameras should be set up with explicit landowner permission and most public lands require research permits. We encourage you to place your camera on property you own.

    Something is wrong with my camera! How do I fix it?

    First, make sure the batteries are inserted correctly and have sufficient charge. The wrong type of batteries in the camera can also cause problems, so follow the manufacturer recommendations for types of batteries to use for your make and model. We have the best luck with lithium batteries in our cameras. Second, make sure that the memory card is formatted for your specific camera. For some camera models, deleting all the photos on the memory card through the camera itself will reformat the card. However, if there appears to be a non-fixable issue with your camera, please contact the company from which you purchased your camera as they often have warranties and can help you much better that we can!

    How do I retrieve photos from my camera?

    Please refer to our blog post How to Check Your Wildlife Camera for our advice on how to best check your camera. Make sure to bring fresh batteries and a separate memory card to replace the one currently storing photos!

    My camera’s batteries died, and the camera didn’t record for the full month. Can I still submit the data I have?

    Yes! In the form there is a question that asks if you have data for the full month. If you select no, you will be prompted to enter the actual dates the camera was operational during the month.

    I personally saw an animal and took a photo of it. Should I submit it this observation to FotoFauna?

    This survey is only for wildlife camera photos that run continuously. However, please submit your photo to iNaturalist.org. Sky Island Alliance collects all data submitted to iNaturalist.org in our region through our Sky Island Nature Watch project. Your photo will help us document the amazing diversity of this region.

    I think I have a photo of one of the checklist species on my camera, but I’m not sure that I’ve identified it correctly. Should I submit it anyway?

    We will confirm the identification of any species submitted to FotoFauna; however, we recommend you first submit the photo to iNaturalist.org to quickly crowd source the identification of your species before submitting your checklist.

    My wildlife camera only takes videos. What do I do?

    After downloading the videos to your computer, find the best video for each species. Pause the video when the animal is in best focus, take a screenshot, and upload the image to our checklist form. It doesn’t have to be a beautiful photo, just clear enough that we can confirm the species identification.

    My camera recorded multiple visits by the species on the checklist during the month. Which observation do I submit?

    FotoFauna simply seeks to confirm whether each species on the checklist was present or absent near each camera location every month, regardless of how many times it was recorded. Chose the clearest photo available during the month for each species recorded and submit it, regardless of when during the month that particular observation occurred. If you have extra photos that are really awesome and worth sharing, there is space at the end of the survey to submit additional photos!

    I have multiple cameras that I’d like to submit. What do I do?

    Please submit one checklist form per camera. In the camera information section, please include a description or name for each camera.

    I have multiple months of data I’d like to submit. What do I do?

    Please submit one checklist form per month. There is a field where you will indicate which month you are submitting the data for in the form. If you are only able to get to the camera every few months, you can submit a separate checklist for each of the months at once.

    I want to join FotoFauna, but don’t want to share the location of my camera. How will FotoFauna protect my information?

    All camera locations will be kept confidential to protect both the cameras from theft and the wildlife that are observed by the cameras. All mapped FotoFauna data will obscure the specific location information.

    I can only check my camera a couple times a year. Can I still submit data?

    Yes! Whenever you check your cameras, please submit a separate checklist form for each month of the data you’ve collected.

    I have a wildlife camera, but I don’t have time to analyze the photos myself or submit a checklist. Can my camera still be part of the FotoFauna network?

    Contact Zoe Fullem (zoe@skyislandalliance.org) to find out if there is another volunteer who can help process your observations.

    I don’t have a camera, but I want to help with FotoFauna. Is there a way for me to participate?

    Contact Zoe Fullem (zoe@skyislandalliance.org) to find out if there is a wildlife camera in your area that needs maintenance or photo processing.