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Adapting Squirrel-Net Modules for Remote Instruction

We recently published a remote adaptation companion essay to complement our modules in CourseSource, published here:


YouTube Channel: Check out our YouTube Channel for additional how-to videos to help students collect data from home: 


Behavioral observations module:

  • Our YouTube channel has a how-to video for data collection, including some adaptations for remote teaching and learning, and an overview video to orient students to the network and project as a whole.

  • Data collection: if students cannot collect behavioral data in pairs, then observers can use a free Tabata timer app to keep track of 20-sec intervals

  • If not in an area with squirrels or unable to safely go outside, the instructor could provide videos that they record on campus or nearby parks that students could analyze.

  • We also recently published a YouTube playlist of freely available 5-minute squirrel videos for analysis; however, please use these videos for practice only - do not submit data to the datasets from the video.

  • Worst-case scenario, if they can’t collect data, even from videos, they can still use the data set to analyze patterns in the data already in the national database. Request access to the dataset here.



  • We have a video on our YouTube channel about doing GUD in your own backyard. Many students would be able to potentially do this, and some universities even have funds to send lab supplies to students at home 

  • A very low-tech adaptation of this experiment is to obtain 3 x 9”-aluminum pie tins (permission to eat pie), shelled sunflower seeds, and sand. Using a small nail or a paperclip, poke holes in the bottom of one of the pie tins, and use this to sift the play sand. Place about 1 liter of play sand in each of the two other pie tins. For each pie tin, count out 100 unbroken shelled sunflower seeds (this is about 5 grams of seed) and mix evenly into the sand. Select two microhabitats close to home where you can place the tins. Record any observations of squirrels or other animals feeding from the trays. At the end of each trial, sift the sand and count the remaining sunflower seeds.  This is your GUD. 


Population Estimation:

  • Our YouTube channel has a video that walks students through each method of estimating population sizes, as well as the assumptions inherent in each method.

  • We also have a practice (made up) dataset for students to use, which is available by request. Click here to request access.



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