Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Celebrating the citizen in citizen science

By November 2nd, 2016 at 5:57 pm | Comment

Volunteers process birds as part of COASST program. Image credit: COASST

Volunteers process birds as part of COASST program. Image credit: COASST

I believe that citizen science is about citizenship as well as science. By this, I don’t mean citizenship in a specific country, but in a larger community. As a citizen scientist focusing on the natural world, I become a better citizen of that world—the world of tree frogs, say, or hummingbirds or dragonflies. Citizen science makes me a better citizen of a particular place, like the river where I am looking for macroinvertebrates or the mountain range where I document invasive plant species.

Recently, I was pleased to read a paper in the journal Conservation Biology that explores whether participating in citizen science also leads to a more conventional citizenship. The authors test the theory that citizen science is a path to social and political action by taking a close look at the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST), a program that relies on volunteers to monitor beached seabirds from Mendocino, California to Kotzebue, Alaska. Read the rest of this entry »

Saving California’s Seals and Sea Lions

By October 11th, 2016 at 10:58 pm | Comment

We tend to think of famine in human terms. But animal populations also experience wide-spread hunger, and the hundreds of emaciated young seals and sea lions stranded on California beaches in the past year were a poignant example.

Fortunately, a large team of citizen scientists at The Marine Mammal Center—an animal hospital and research institute north of San Francisco—were ready for the challenge. Twenty-eight crews of 15-20 people worked day and night shifts to rescue and rehabilitate the starving pups and yearlings. By July, 2016, about 1200 volunteers and 50 staff members had fought to save 380 sea lions, 220 elephant seals, 120 harbor seals, and 20 Guadalupe fur seals.  Read the rest of this entry »

Urban Citizen Science

By July 27th, 2016 at 7:16 pm | Comment

A recent article in the New York Times highlights the way urban environments are affecting evolution in a variety of species. From European blackbirds with high-pitched calls to beat the sound of traffic to spiders adapted to build their webs closer to light poles, the dynamic and harsh urban environment is changing our biodiversity. Citizen scientists are crucial to understanding and documenting these changes. Below we highlight 5 citizen science projects that can be done in urban areas so you can help researchers across the world! You can find 1500 more projects and events on the SciStarter project finder.


pinned-cicadas

Lauren Nichols

 

Urban Buzz

Collect cicadas and send them to scientists to learn how this insect is changing with climate change and habitat loss. Get started here.

 

 

 

urbanbird

Victor Loewen  

 

 

Celebrate Urban Birds

Observe birds in your area to help scientists learn how habitat improvement affects birds in urban environments. Get started here.

 

 

 

Urban Nature Research Center ProjectsNature_map

The UNCR out of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles runs several urban biodiversity studies on everything from squirrels to snails. Learn more about SLIME, RASCALS, the Southern California Squirrel Survey, and get started now!

 

 

 

Trees Please Trees Please

You can help improve Hamilton Ontario’s urban forests and air quality with Trees Please! You can collect data for an interactive database of urban tree health that will ultimately be compared with air quality data. Get started here.

 

 

 

 

DarkSkyMeter_-_Logo_-_Mockup_-_Web_-_3 (1)

Dark Sky Meter

Help measure light pollution in your area with the Dark Sky Meter app. You’ll help create a global map of nighttime light pollution. Get started here.

 


Want more citizen science? Check out SciStarter’s Project Finder! With 1100+ citizen science projects spanning every field of research, task and age group, there’s something for everyone!

Poké Around With Citizen Science

By July 22nd, 2016 at 1:39 am | Comment

It's taking the world by storm. How can citizen science benefit? (Credit: Eduardo Woo/(CC BY-SA 2.0)

It’s taking the world by storm. How can citizen science benefit? (Credit: Eduardo Woo/(CC BY-SA 2.0)

by Jennifer Cutraro

By now, you’ve surely seen, heard about, or even joined the hordes of people wandering about outdoors,  phones held right in front of their faces. In the two weeks since Pokémon Go’s release, there’s been much ado about the game: how it gets people outdoors, how it promotes physical activity, how it’s already sparked a robust community of haters, and the risks of playing the game without paying attention to your surroundings.

Risks aside, I’m not the first to be jumping-up-and-down excited about the educational and research opportunities this presents. Within days of Pokémon Go’s launch, entomologist Morgan Jackson created the hashtag #PokeBlitz — a clever mashup of Pokémon and BioBlitz, a type of time-limited biodiversity scavenger hunt. He and a community of scientists and educators are using it on Twitter to help other gamers identify the IRL — in real life — plants and animals they encounter while on their Pokémon adventures. It’s a great way to learn about the plants and animals that share your neighborhood.

Pokémon Go also presents a great opportunity for citizen science — if you’re already out looking for charmeleon and poliwrath, you can contribute to one of many projects around the country looking for information about the (actual)  plants, animals, and even stars you see right in your neighborhood. Here are some projects to help you get started:

If you have no idea what kind of tree, bird, or mushroom you’ve found, that’s  no problem. After you share a photo on Twitter with the #PokeBlitz hashtag, send it along to iNaturalist, where a team of amateur naturalists can also help identify the species you found. iNaturalist has a free app that makes it easy for you to share photos with their community, including a “Help Me ID This Species” button. Every photograph you share with iNaturalist contributes valuable data to scientists monitoring species occurrences around the world. Browse their site to check out photos of plants and animals others in your local community have shared with iNaturalist — a simple and easy way to learn more about nature right in your neighborhood.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Celebrate Urban Birds program is a good starting point for both learning to identify common birds across the country and contributing information about your local species to this important citizen science program. If birds aren’t your thing, take time to smell the flowers, then share the flower’s location and life cycle stage with Project BudBurst, a nationwide phenology monitoring program with a robust collection of curriculum and other materials for educators and families. You can also help scientists learn more about seasonal migration by sending information about songbirds, butterflies, and other species you stumble upon at your PokéStop to Journey North.

If you’re out in the evening, count the number of stars you see for GLOBE at Night, a campaign measuring light pollution around the world. You also can use your phone’s camera to record light pollution levels in your area, data the folks at the Dark Sky Meter project would really like to have. And if you’re lucky enough to see fireflies when you’re outdoors, please share that information with our friends over at Firefly Watch.

To be fair, there’s no shortage of opinion about Pokémon Go — what it means for meaningful outdoor experience, the place of technology in the outdoors, whether it just provides another way to disengage from the world around us. In a thoughtful piece in the New York Times, Richard Louv, author of Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-RIch Life, shares his nuanced perspective on how we might consider Pokémon Go’s potential to encourage people to explore nature. He offers us all a simple frame of reference:  

“Here’s a litmus test: how long does it take a person to look up from the screen and actually experience the natural world?”

To me, that’s a helpful and practical lens through which to view any piece of technology or media. Whether it’s watching TV, playing a game, hanging out on social media or, yes, playing Pokémon Go, we all need to look away from the screen from time to time. You might be more likely to do just that if you also turn your Pokémon Go adventure into an opportunity to get to know your actual neighborhood, learn a little about nature, and contribute to science research along the way.


Want more citizen science? Check out SciStarter’s Project Finder! With 1100+ citizen science projects spanning every field of research, task and age group, there’s something for everyone!

Dive into Shark Week with SciStarter

By June 30th, 2016 at 5:36 pm | Comment

Dive into Shark Week with SciStarter

It’s shark week! Celebrate by getting involved in one of the many citizen science projects that study and protect sharks. Find even more projects with the  SciStarter Global Project Finder.

Cheers!
The SciStarter Team

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