By Kathryn Cannon and Kristin Foss
Fox Finders of Baton Rouge is a community social media project where a Louisiana State University (LSU) research team, consisting of Dr. Linda Hooper Bui and Ashennur Soyal, are investigating urban fox populations in Baton Rouge. The goal of the project is to not only monitor fox populations, but to also engage with the Baton Rouge community. To illustrate the data they have collected on social media, we developed an online, interactive story map to highlight the foxes located in the Baton Rouge community. Since the project is a community effort and motivated by social media, it was important to continue to connect with the public and show the community the widespread populations of foxes. Using the ArcGis Story Maps template, we designed a unique story map to include pictures, locations, and eyewitness accounts of foxes located in the Baton Rouge area.
In order to collect the data, the key researchers utilized social media to engage the public to document and map the foxes in Baton Rouge, LA. Local residents were asked to post sightings and/or photos of foxes they observed with the location onto the Facebook page “Fox Finders of Baton Rouge” or on Instagram with #findfoxlsu. The Facebook page was a large success with 607 “likes” (over 53 days) and approximately 452 citizens engaged with the FB page between mid-Sep & mid-Oct 2015. Also, 69 fox sightings of about 84 foxes, including 33 photos, were submitted, as well as some sightings in nearby cities. Five main areas of the city where foxes are typically found were identified (LSU Lakes, University Acres, Highland & Kenilworth Area, Goodwood & Lobdell Area, and BREC Swamp), four of which were adjacent to a water source.
Overall, the project successfully promoted citizen science by easily connecting residents to science occurring in their environment and efficiently mapping many foxes in Baton Rouge. The ArcGis Story Map tool is an efficient, user-friendly way to present data in an interactive format to engage the public. As data continues to be collected via social media, the Story Map will be updated.
Click here to see the interactive story map.