Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘mapping’

Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest Gets Interactive

Friday, June 19th, 2015
2015 Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest Winners Represented on New Story Map

By: Kathleen Wadiak, Wildlife Conservation Intern


Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s 2015 Species on the Edge Art and Essay Contest gave fifth grade students from across the state the opportunity to research an endangered species and submit a drawing and essay written from the animal’s perspective. Meant to support awareness of endangered species in students, the Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest encourages fifth graders to think like wildlife biologists as they gather research and learn about pressing environmental issues. The results of this contest are the subject of our newest story map!


This interactive map allows the user to click on icons to see participating schools, first and second winners from each county, and honorable mention entries. Scrolling through the text on the left side changes the content of the points on the map. A click on each map point brings up more information, like the number of classes from each school that submitted an entry. While scrolling through the list of winners, users can even click on the schools’ icons to bring up the students’ names, essays, and artwork.


The format of this story map is simple and easy to use, allowing for an interesting, interactive way to display the hard work of students across New Jersey.


Learn more:


Kathleen Wadiak is a Wildlife Conservation Intern with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.


“Harbor Seals in New Jersey” – Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s Latest Story Map

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey Releases a New Story Map: “Harbor Seals in New Jersey”

By: Michael Davenport, GIS Program Manager


Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) has partnered with Jenkinson’s Aquarium of Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey to create and release our latest Story Map, “Harbor Seals in New Jersey.”

Seal Story MapOver the years, CWF staff have worked with a number of marine biologists in order to monitor seal populations in New Jersey and minimize disturbance or harm to them. Most recently, CWF held two workshops in 2014 to educate first responders on handling marine mammal (and sea turtle) strandings. We’re continuing our efforts at educating the public about these amazing animals with our “Harbor Seals in New Jersey” Story Map. A Story Map is a web-based interactive map embedded with multimedia content, such as text, photographs, and video.


The release of this Story Map coincides with the renovation of the seal exhibit at Jenkinson’s Aquarium. Jenkinson’s has been home for harbor seals since 1991, when their first seal (“Luseal”) moved in. She was soon joined by another seal, “Seaquin.”


This Story Map provides general information about harbor seals: where they live, how they live, and what dangers they face in the wild from both predators and humans. Luseal and Seaquin also have pages devoted to them, with photos and interesting facts about their lives and behaviors.


Learn more:


Michael Davenport is the GIS Program Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.




Story Map Brings Oystercatchers to Life Online

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

CWF Celebrates World Shorebirds Day With Release of Our First Story Map: “American Oystercatchers Through the Seasons”

By Michael Davenport, GIS Program Manager

Conserve Wildlife Foundation (CWF), today released a new interactive “Wildlife Story Map” in support of this Saturday’s first annual World Shorebirds Day! The Story Map can be viewed here!


A Story Map is a web-based interactive GIS map embedded with multimedia content, such as text, photographs, and video. CWF, working with GIS software developer ESRI and with financial assistance provided by a grant from the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife, plans to make this Story Map the first of many, helping engage the public about New Jersey’s rare wildlife in a dynamic and interactive way.

 “American Oystercatchers Through the Seasons” tells the story about a species of migratory bird, the American Oystercatcher, which spends the summer breeding season along the New Jersey coast, but is present year-round along the southern New Jersey coast. Our state represents the northern limit of the species’ winter range. While some New Jersey birds migrate during the winter to Florida, those that breed in New England during the summer may end up spending their winter here in New Jersey.

This Story Map also provides stories about individual banded birds, which have been tracked on journeys between New Jersey and southern states such as Florida, as well as between New Jersey and more northern states, such as Massachusetts.

Make a donation today to support additional Story Maps!

How to Use the Story Map:

On the left side of the Story Map page are several “buttons” which will allow you to flip through the different seasons in an oystercatcher’s life: Breeding, Migration, and Wintering.  Each page provides information and photos and a map specific to that portion of the bird’s life cycle. By clicking on an individual point within the map, a box containing more specific information, and a photo in some cases, will pop-up. The map also provides the ability to zoom-in and out in order to see areas of interest in more detail.

This Story Map is especially exciting since it helps celebrate the first annual World Shorebirds Day. This event seeks to “…raise global public awareness about the conservation of, and research about, shorebirds. About half of the world’s shorebird populations are in decline, and the rate of habitat loss is worse than ever before” (World Shorebirds Day 2014).

World Shorebirds Day hopes to accomplish the following:

  • To raise public awareness about the need to protect shorebirds and their habitats throughout their life cycles;
  • To raise public awareness about the need for ongoing shorebird research;
  • To connect people with shorebirds through important shorebird sites around the world;
  • To get shorebird enthusiasts to introduce shorebirds to more birdwatchers;
  • To raise awareness about the need for increased funding for shorebird research, monitoring and conservation.

CWF’s shorebird leadership ranges from the American Oystercatcher celebrated in this Story Map, to the beach nesting birds along the Atlantic Coast, to the red knots and ruddy turnstones along the Delaware Bay.

Your support can help CWF develop additional Story Maps on other rare wildlife. Support our work on Story Maps on the American Oystercatcher and other important shorebirds in honor of World Shorebirds Day by supporting research, education, and public awareness efforts carried out by CWF:

We hope that this will be the first of many Story Maps that CWF will use in order to communicate the many fascinating stories that New Jersey’s wildlife have to tell.

Make a donation today to support shorebirds today!

Keeping Wildlife Range Maps Current

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

By Michael Davenport, Marine Species & GIS Programs Manager

The former and revised range maps for the Checkered White butterfly in New Jersey.

Just as world maps get updated with the addition of new countries (most recently South Sudan in 2011), wildlife range maps also need to be revised occasionally as new information becomes available.

There are 173 range maps available on Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s on-line field guide web pages for New Jersey’s endangered, threatened, and special concern species.  Although some of these maps were created only two years ago, 23 range maps were in need of minor to major revisions since new data had become available.  The range maps are based upon data within the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s Biotics database, the official statewide database of rare wildlife.  While some new data was received from biologists’ surveys, a portion of it was received from the general public who submitted Rare Wildlife Sighting Report Forms for their own personal observations.

One of the most striking range map revisions is the Checkered White Butterfly.  Previously documented only at Newark Airport, this species has now also been documented in southern New Jersey.  Whether or not this disjunct population has been there all these years and not reported (flying under the radar so to speak), or this represents a recent natural range expansion or introduction is unknown at this point.

Take a tour of our on-line field guide – revised maps are labeled “2012”.

Mapping Rattlesnake Dens in Northern New Jersey

Friday, May 13th, 2011

By Michael J. Davenport, Marine Species & GIS Programs Manager

A juvenile timber rattlesnake at a den site. © Mike Davenport

Having accurately mapped rare species data is essential for insuring that critical habitat for those species remains protected.  For that reason, I recently accompanied Kris Schantz, a biologist from the NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program, in documenting two timber rattlesnake den locations in northern New Jersey using a GPS (global positioning system) unit.  Our goals were to see if the rattlesnakes had emerged from hibernation, survey how many were present, and to accurately map their locations in the heavily wooded area less than 30 miles outside New York City.

Using a GPS unit to map a rattlesnake den. © Mike Davenport

Timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus horridus), like other reptiles, are cold-blooded.  In order to survive through the long, cold winter in New Jersey, they hibernate in dens.  Research has shown that rattlesnake dens in the northern part of the state can vary from rocky outcroppings with crevices, ledges or boulders to forest interior dens consisting of a few rocks and a hole in the ground.  In New Jersey’s Pinelands, however, rattlesnake dens are quite different.  Rattlesnake dens in the Pinelands are usually underground crevices near bodies of water, often underneath large tree roots.

Rattlesnakes will almost always use the same den year after year.  In addition, rattlesnake young typically follow the scent trail of their mother in order to find their way to her den their first fall, or may follow any timber rattlesnake to a suitable den.  As a result, a good den site may provide a winter refuge for a number of rattlesnakes of all age classes, as well as other species of snakes.

Since the goal of our mission was to map den locations, we had to make sure we arrived at the den site once it was warm enough for the rattlesnakes to come out of their crevasses to bask but before they had enough warm weather to travel away from the den site.  Timing was crucial.  After a week with some fairly warm days mixed with very cool nights and a few cool days, we ventured out during the last week of April on a day when the air temperature climbed into the lower 80’s.

The first den site we visited required a fairly long hike through a rocky, deciduous forest.  Fortunately, Kris had visited both den sites several years earlier so she had a good idea of where we needed to go.  We were fortunate to find two individuals at the den site, one yellow-phase juvenile and one yellow-phase sub-adult or young adult.  While I GPSed the den site, Kris attempted to determine their sex based on their appearance (the young adult was a female but the juvenile’s sex could not be determined).

GPS units work when there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites.  With 7-8 satellites being detected by the GPS unit, my task of mapping the site was fairly easy and took little time.  The trees had yet to leaf-out so my GPS unit had a clear signal from above.  We also observed a northern black racer (Coluber constrictor constrictor) at the den site.

The second den site required a much longer and more strenuous hike accompanied by swarms of black flies.  At that location, we observed three rattlesnakes – one black-phase adult (sex undetermined), one yellow-phase adult male, and one yellow-phase sub-adult or young adult (sex undetermined).  GPSing this location took a little more effort though due to the terrain both because it was more difficult to get to the site and once there, the terrain made getting a clear signal on the GPS unit a little more tricky and it took far longer than at the first den.

Out of the five rattlesnakes we observed, only one ever rattled.  Rattlesnakes rely on their camouflage as their first line of defense.  Even when we were close by, they remained motionless.  At no point did any of the snakes approach us or attempt to strike.  The only two individuals which moved at all during our survey, moved away from us into rock crevasses and that was likely due to our prolonged presence staring at them.

Snakes, and venomous snakes in particular, have an undeserved bad reputation.  At no point during our survey did I ever have any fear of being bitten by a rattlesnake.  In all honesty, I was actually far more afraid of being bitten by a tick instead (I only found about four or five on me during the entire day).

For more information on timber rattlesnakes, visit Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s on-line field guide to New Jersey’s rare species at: