Wildlife Field Research
Wildlife Field Research is a key component of The Cibolo Center for Conservation Community Science Initiative, which collects crucial data on land, water, and wildlife.
Wildlife Field Research is a week-long bioblitz conducted every spring and fall at our two campuses, the Cibolo Nature Center and Herff Farm. During this research event, teams of Community Scientists combine their experience, knowledge, and enthusiasm to survey the ecology on these 160 acres.
Our Community Science work is done in close partnership with The Cibolo Preserve, the neighboring 645-acre natural habitat and watershed area along Cibolo Creek. We invite you to learn more about the Cibolo Preserve and its powerful mission.
Wildlife Field Research Week
The Fall 2022 WFR Week is scheduled for Oct 2-8.
Master Naturalists, college students, teenagers, parents, and young kids, and other nature enthusiasts participate in this event, each bringing their own interests to the mix to create a colorful and fun science community. For some, the camaraderie and fun that is had during Wildlife Field Research bring them back year after year.
Community Science engages citizens in the task of recording observations of the environment and its many inhabitants. These observations are used to make scientific assessments that inform land management and human behaviors that impact our world. New participants are trained by Team Leaders who provide instruction and guidance on how to conduct the surveys and record information.
Wildlife Field Research Surveys
- Ant Survey
- Amphibian Watch
- Aquatic Survey
- Butterfly Survey
- Prairie Vegetation Photo Points
- Prairie Vegetation Survey
- Riparian Woody Plant Survey
- Small Mammal Trapping
- Watersnake & Reptile Search
- and More…
To learn more about our surveys, see our MAP OF SURVEYS to see Wildlife Field Research in action!
Lunch is provided on Thursday and Friday to all participants. We recommend that you wear outdoor clothes and closed-toed shoes. Bring a hat, sunscreen, and a water bottle. Long pants are recommended for surveys taking place in the tallgrass prairie. A raincoat will come in handy if inclement weather is in the forecast. If you need to stay overnight, we have limited camping spots available. Please indicate your interest when you register.
About Wildlife Field Research Surveys
Community Scientists head out to the creek after dusk to listen to frog calls, identify the species and rank the chorus according to the number of calls that are heard. This helps researchers monitor amphibian populations, which also provide an indication of water quality. Data collected from this survey is submitted to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Nature Trackers program.
To survey ants, Community Scientists place bait on small plastic dishes along a transect. This bait is left out for several hours. The trays are then collected in plastic bags and refrigerated. The ants are then taken to the lab where they are identified and counted using microscopes. The ant survey allows researchers to monitor ant species diversity and abundance.
A team of Community Scientists assesses streamflow and sample macro-invertebrates (dragonfly larvae, caddisfly larvae, and others), fish, and other aquatic organisms alongside biologists from the San Antonio River Authority (SARA). The macro-invertebrate samples are taken to the CNC lab where they are identified and counted using microscopes. Macro-invertebrates are biological indicators of water quality.
During the butterfly survey, community scientists walk a steady pace throughout the nature center’s four habitats: prairie, marsh, riparian, and woodland. Over the past several years species of record have been documented for the first time in Kendall County. Butterflies are often good indicators of the presence of certain hard-to-locate plant species, like Spice Bush.
On Saturday of Wildlife Field Research week, we will host our iNaturalist Bioblitz. During this survey, participants are encouraged to pick a wildlife topic of interest (birds, butterflies, dragonflies, flowering plants, beetles, etc,) then scour the park photographing specimens. To participate in the Bioblitz, community scientists are encouraged to download and use the iNaturalist app on their own smart device (iPhone, Android, tablets, etc.) to photograph and share their wildlife sightings. Participants are encouraged to watch this VIDEO to learn how to use this app. Participants are also welcome to use their digital cameras to take photos of specimens and then upload them to the iNaturalist website. To learn more about how to use the iNaturalist website to view your sightings and participate in this community science endeavor, please see the website Tutorial Page.
INCIDENTAL BIRD COUNT
Community Scientists who participate in the incidental bird count enjoy a peaceful morning walk, listening to and watching songbirds. Each species is identified and tallied and lists are kept according to the habitat in which the birds are seen. The data collected during the bird count is submitted to eBird, an online database administered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which collects community science data from around the world.
PRAIRIE VEGETATION PHOTO POINTS
A team of photographers and nature enthusiasts takes photos to document changes in the prairie structure over time. By comparing photos from successive years, CNC land managers and researchers have a visual reference that helps them to inform management practices and data interpretation.
PRAIRIE VEGETATION SURVEY
Plant enthusiasts and beginners alike survey several transects in the prairie to determine vegetation type, including forbs and grasses, and to assess ground cover. Using this data, researchers can assess changes in plant composition over time.
RIPARIAN WOODY PLANT SURVEY
Riparian woody vegetation assessments are conducted in the fall along transects crossing Cibolo Creek. Woody plants are identified and their trunks are measured to assess annual growth rates. The data from this survey helps to assess changes in riparian woody plant diversity and facilitates invasive plant occurrence tracking for use during the spring invasives removal project.
SMALL MAMMAL TRAPPING
Community Scientists set and bait “Sherman” traps along transects in the tallgrass prairie and woodland at the Nature Center. The following morning, the traps are checked for small mammals. Captured mammals are documented and a small clipping of hair is removed from the animal to mark that it has been captured. The animal is then released unharmed. This survey enables researchers to monitor the diversity and health of the small mammal population.
WATER SNAKE TRAPPING & REPTILE SEARCH
Community Scientists search for reptiles under rocks, within tall grass, throughout the woodland, and in Cibolo Creek. Anoles, skinks, whiptails, and other lizards, as well as ribbon snakes, blotched and diamondback watersnakes and many other species are recorded during this survey. The water snakes are caught when possible, then pit-tagged and released. This survey helps researchers monitor the diversity and health of the reptile population.