Our wildlife monitoring success goes beyond building a wealth of new scientific knowledge. We’re building a trusted resource that informs real decisions about public policy, land management, and conservation for the benefit of people and wildlife.
With the help of hundreds of trained volunteer naturalists, Sky Island Alliance has a long, successful history of wildlife monitoring and research. We use non-intrusive techniques including track and sign identification, wildlife camera monitoring, and crowd-sourced observation. With these techniques combined, we’ve amassed an incredible amount of data. We share this information on our Madrean Archipelago Biodiversity Assessment (MABA) database, which anyone — scientists, students, planners, resource managers, and others — can view and use.
Our Wildlife Tracking program is a citizen-science effort that conducts surveys for animal track and sign (footprints, scat, and other evidence of animal presence). We started in 1995 with an annual Fort Huachuca Mountain Lion Track Count and a short-term survey in the Las Ciénegas watershed. Today, we run an internationally recognized, region-wide monitoring program. Each year, we collect an average of 2,000 observations of our focal study species, including coati, black bear and
mountain lion, in imperiled wildlife corridors and linkages. With this data, we’re even better equipped to monitor and protect at-risk wildlife pathways.
Every year, more than 100 wildlife-tracking volunteers survey more than 20 active study sites (1.5-mile-long routes) every six weeks. In Arizona and New Mexico, we survey strategic linkage areas, mostly on public lands. In Sonora, Mexico, we work largely on private lands in partnership with local volunteers, private landowners, the national protected areas commission (CONANP), and Instituto Tecnológico Superior de Cananea.
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Wildlife Stewardship & Cameras
Since 2006, we’ve used motion-activated wildlife cameras to engage with private landowners and observe the secret lives of animals. Each year, we collect approximately 10,000 images of Sky Island wildlife in rugged and remote places. The time-stamped photos and videos safely gather important data, increasing our knowledge about rare species such as the jaguar and ocelot. With this data, we gain valuable information about animals’ presence, movement, and behavior. We can analyze interactions between different species, as well as observe seasonal or daily behavior patterns. Volunteer Wildlife Stewards maintain our cameras in the field and assist us with managing our huge database of images. Landowners also become contributing stewards and monitor wildlife on their own property. Starting in 2014, we are sharing and analyzing wildlife camera data across the Sky Islands in partnership with Saguaro National Park, Chiricahua National Monument, and sister parks in Sonora, Mexico.
Sky Island Nature Watch
Using the power of individuals and the community, we launched the Sky Island Nature Watch project in 2014 to help us locate “roadkill hotspots” and document wildlife sightings across the region. With this data and increased public awareness, we are reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions and other human-wildlife conflicts. Anyone can use this project to help us collect information, and share photos and observations of plants and animals in their own backyards, urban areas and places they visit in the region. We upload research grade (scientific quality) observations from this project to our Madrean Archipelago Biodiversity Assessment (MABA) database.
View more observations from Sky Island Nature Watch on iNaturalist.org »