Much of our state is wide open and rural. A lot of it is quickly becoming urban. However we might feel about the ongoing transitions, there are studies being done to learn about how wild animals are making use of these changing spaces.
Last Saturday I had the pleasure of meeting and learning about the UWIN System from Aimee Concillio, Amy Belaire and Caitlin Higgins at St Edward’s University in Austin, TX. It was created by members of the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, IL to gather data from the area to better understand the ecology and behavior of human species. It grew to include many other cities across the country such as Los Angeles and Manhattan. The founders came up with a data collection system to examine what was happening as a result of urban spread in these cities. By comparing data throughout the network, members of the system in each participating city can better understand differences in animal behavior across regions and find patterns that remain consistent around the globe. UWIN works to provide city planners, wildlife managers, and researchers with the tools needed to make cities part of the solution to the biodiversity crisis.
The system in our area is supported by Austin Texas Parks and Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy,St Edward’s University and Wild Basin.
There are a number of wild life trapping cameras placed around the greater Austin area. As a volunteer you would be able to login into a portal where there are photos from the cameras waiting to be tagged and identified.
As a nontechnical person, I thought it might be a complicated process. I was surprised and relieved to learn how simple it was. If you’re not certain of the image due to blurr, too much or too little back lighting, not to worry because each series of photos is viewed and checked twice before being submitted into UWIN.There is a drop down menu which includes the names of common wildlife if you have a question of how to spell the name of a particular species
I personally love nature and enjoy watching animals. Sometimes I don’t want to drive out to where they are. As a online photo viewer I get to enjoy seeing what the cameras caught at various locations from the privacy of my home computer!
Amy and Caitlin are planning to have another training in the future. You can contact them at
Caitlin Higgens : CaitHigg10@gmail.com
Amy Belair: Amy.Belaire@TNC.org
The activity would be recorded on our VMS as AT: Single Presentation
Here’s how you can contribute to the study and help make a difference: https://urbanwildlifeinfo.org/our-story
Benefits of Joining the Network
- Partners contribute to the largest international study on urban wildlife in existence.
- Partners have access to data from across the network to use for publication, education, and other research. There is the potential for highly impactful publications given the scale, scope, and novelty of the network.
- UWIN opens up educational opportunities and avenues for citizen science. As part of UWIN, you will be given access to our archive of UWIN-related lesson plans, syllabi, and other activities for all age ranges.
- We provide training and assistance with methodology, data management, and statistical analyses.
- Partners receive increased media attention and visibility for projects.
- As a member of UWIN, you are part of a network of like-minded colleagues interested in advancing the field.