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Using community photography to investigate phenology: A case study of coat moult in the mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) with missing data
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  • Katarzyna Nowak,
  • Shane Richards,
  • Amy Panikowski,
  • Donald Reid,
  • Aerin Jacob,
  • Gregory Newman,
  • Nicholas Young,
  • Jon Beckmann,
  • Joel Berger
Katarzyna Nowak
The Safina Center

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Shane Richards
University of Tasmania
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Amy Panikowski
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Donald Reid
Wildlife Conservation Society Canada
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Aerin Jacob
Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative
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Gregory Newman
Colorado State University
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Nicholas Young
Colorado State University
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Jon Beckmann
WCS North America Program
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Joel Berger
Colorado State University
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Participatory approaches such as community photography can engage the public in questions of societal and scientific interest. We combined data extracted from community-sourced, spatially-explicit photographs with research findings from 2018 fieldwork in the Yukon, Canada, to evaluate winter coat moult 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 several 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 datasets, we evaluated effects of intrinsic (sex and presence of offspring) and environmental (latitude and elevation) factors on moult onset and rate and compared our findings with published data. Shedding occurred over a 3-month period, May 29-September 6. Effects of sex and offspring on the timing of moult 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 moulted first followed by females without offspring (6.4 days later in the coarse-grained, geographically-wide community science sample; 23.7 days later in our fine-grained Yukon sample) and lastly females with new kids (5.5; 17.9, respectively). Shedding was later at higher than at lower elevations. Northern latitudes had slightly later but shorter shedding periods. We detected a possible shift in moult timing in recent years (2015-2018) that warrants additional investigation. Despite data limitations, such as bias towards recent photographs, 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. As such, community photography can inspire public participation in environmental and outdoor activities with reference to iconic wildlife.
09 May 2020Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
11 May 2020Submission Checks Completed
11 May 2020Assigned to Editor
13 May 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
03 Jun 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
12 Jun 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
12 Sep 20201st Revision Received
14 Sep 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
14 Sep 2020Submission Checks Completed
14 Sep 2020Assigned to Editor
23 Sep 2020Editorial Decision: Accept
09 Nov 2020Published in Ecology and Evolution. 10.1002/ece3.6954