Archive for the ‘Events’ Category
This is a citizen science webinar opportunity from CitSci.org.
DURATION: 1 hour
Time: 1:00-2:00p (MST)
Count and protect migrating amphibians. Help salamanders cross the road at night with the Salamander Crossing Brigades.
Citizen science after hours…here are some citizen science projects you can do at night.
Springtime means that love is in the air. Bees are buzzing, birds are chirping, animals are mating–and salamanders want to do it too. That is, if they can reach their breeding grounds safely. Salamanders, known for their permeable skin and their capacity to regenerate limbs, make use of rainy spring nights to trek from their underground forest habitats to nearby ephemeral pools to lay eggs. In their travels, salamanders often have to cross roads, and yet so far, they don’t have crosswalks.
To help ensure salamanders’ safe passage to their breeding grounds, the Ashuelot Valley Environmental Observatory (AVEO), the citizen science arm of the Harris Center for Conservation Education in New Hampshire, trains citizen scientist volunteers as crossing guards for the northeast’s amphibians every spring. Salamander migrations are highly threatened by automobile traffic- rates of deaths on roadways are predicted to be high enough to lead to local extinction of spotted salamanders in the next 25 years according to a study published in Wetlands Ecology and Management. Citizen scientist volunteers are trained to safely usher amphibians across roads and enumerate the species that they see. Through efforts over the last six years, AVEO’s collaboration with citizen scientists has prevented over 15,000 amphibians from being victims of roadkill.
In what AVEO calls, “Big Nights” as part of the Salamander Crossing Brigades project (official site), citizen scientist volunteers work collectively at crossing brigades for wood frogs, spring peepers, and salamanders, including the protected Jefferson and blue-spotted salamander species. Hundreds to thousands of amphibians can cross in one night depending on temperature and precipitation conditions. AVEO studies snow melt and weather patterns, among other variables, to predict nights of maximal amphibian movement on which they schedule their crossing brigades. Salamanders generally prefer rainy nights when temperatures rise above 40, but unpredictabilities arise making designating Big Nights the most challenging, yet critical, aspect of the project. This year AVEO anticipates that early to mid-April will be salamander crossing season this year in southern New Hampshire.
View Amphibian Tracker 2014 in a larger map
AVEO also trains citizen scientists to help protect the salamanders of New Hampshire by identifying new road areas which salamanders traverse to reach their breeding grounds. “We add new crossings to our map every year, all based on the knowledge of our citizen science network. Our volunteers are essential. We simply wouldn’t have a Salamander Crossing Brigade program without them,” says Brett Amy Thelen, science director for the Harris Center for Conservation Education. According to Thelen, one of the project’s biggest accomplishments was inciting the City of Keene, NH to purchase a parcel of conservation land encompassing multiple amphibian crossing sites identified by citizen scientists. “The land was originally slated for development, and the City’s decision to purchase it was based in large part on the data collected by our volunteers, which demonstrated that the site was an important migratory amphibian corridor in Keene.”
AVEO leads another citizen science project, the Vernal Pool Project, where citizen scientists help locate new vernal pools, the ephemeral breeding grounds of salamanders and other amphibians. Breeding in permanent bodies of water is hindered by resident fish populations which prey on salamander eggs. As a result, the transience of vernal pools provides salamanders with a safe breeding location that they can return to each spring. The Vernal Pool Project has identified 130 vernal pools in southwestern New Hampshire, enabling AVEO to implement forestry practices designed to protect the pools from the potential negative effects of timber harvests. Because vernal pools are generally within 1000 feet of salamanders’ normal habitats, protecting the surrounding forest areas is also important for salamander conservation.
Want to participate in a night of helping hundreds of colorful and noisy critters get to the other side? Salamander Crossing Brigade volunteer training sessions will take place on the evening of Thursday, March 13 in Keene, NH and the morning of Saturday March 29 in Hancock, NH. To find out more about salamander migrations, you can check out University of Connecticut Professor Mark Urban’s “amphibian tracker” on his lab website.
Image: Courtesy of Brett Amy Thelen (top), Urban Lab (map)
Sheetal R. Modi is a postdoctoral fellow at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University where she studies how bacteria develop and spread antibiotic resistance. She has a PhD in Biomedical Engineering, and when she’s not growing her bacterial cultures (and repeatedly killing them), she enjoys science communication and being outside.
Science for all, and all for science.
SciStarter will be presenting at the Citizen Cyberscience Summit in London this upcoming week from February 20 to 22nd. There, a multitude of organizations and groups will convene to discuss the most pertinent issues regarding citizen science today and for the future. Take a look at the sessions that SciStarter will be a part of!
Thursday, 2/20 @ 12:00pm BST
led by Caren Cooper, SciStarter contributor & researcher at Cornell Lab of Ornithology
*This talk is part of the POLICY AND CITIZEN SCIENCE track*
Thursday, 2/20 @ 3:30PM BST
led by Darlene Cavalier
*This talk is part of the CREATIVITY & LEARNING track*
Friday, 2/21 @ 11:20AM to 1:00PM BST
led by Darlene Cavalier and Francois Grey
This workshop addresses some of the challenges experienced by citizen scientists participating in multiple projects across different platforms. Project designers and developers will present various models for managing identity and rewards. There will be an open discussion of what works, and what doesn’t. Participants will brainstorm about practical solutions for connecting communities, some of which may lead to concrete demos during the conference hack day. Amongst those contributing to the discussion are:
Yasser Ansari (Project Noah – Independent)
Shannon Dosemagen (Public Lab – Independent)
Nicholas Johnson (Trash Lab – CUSP, NYU)
Lucas Blair (Mozilla Badge expert – Independent)
Dongbo Bo (CAS@home – Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Daniel Lombrana Gonzales (Crowdcrafting)
Scott Loarie (iNaturalist – Stanford U)
Saturday, 2/22 @ 5:00pm BST
led by Caren Cooper, SciStarter contributor & researcher at Cornell Lab of Ornithology
As citizen science studies become less of a novelty, and more embedded in the scientific arena, we’d like to host a panel session looking at how publishers can adapt their practices to work with citizen scientists in making their results accessible. we’ll consider how we publish citizen science studies to ensure visibility to citizen scientists after publication, and how publication can promote projects to new audiences of potential citizen scientists.
All day Saturday: HACK DAY
During this challenge, we will explore ways to improve the experience for participants who want to move between different projects running on different platforms. Help SciStarter and friends design the first-of-its-kind citizen science dashboard to help participants find, get involved in, and track contributions to projects across multiple platforms.
Last Wednesday was the first annual Federal STEM Volunteer Fair. A joint effort by the Department of Energy and the Office of Personnel Management, the event’s mission is to encourage federal workers and the broader Washington, D.C. community to engage in volunteer opportunities that advance STEM education. This is, of course, right up SciStarter’s alley, and I got opportunity to represent SciStarter at the event.
While the day was gray, the enthusiasm indoors was high. There were a lot of different organizations present and I found it inspiring to see the number of organizations committed to improving science education.
- GreatMinds in STEM, which provides underserved Hispanic communities academic and professional support for STEM careers.
- FIRST, which holds student competitions to design devices that solve everyday problems such a monitoring temperature fluctuations in refrigerators. With support from the US Patent and Trademark Offices’ Office of Education and Outreach, some of these devices are currently in the pipeline for patents. Not bad for a high school science project!
At SciStarter’s table, the majority of visitors were STEM educators and program administrators interested in developing new and engaging ways to bring science into the classroom. Most had never heard about citizen science and the opportunities available, so our presence was a great opportunity to spread the word. One feature of our website which they and other educators will likely find useful is our growing Educator’s Page. Here, folks will be able to find projects that our team has screened as being appropriate for elementary, high school or college students.
I also got some potential citizen scientists to sign up for our bimonthly newsletter where, among other newsworthy items, we feature five projects under a theme every two weeks. If you haven’t already, sign up at the bottom of our home page!
Hopefully, some of our new members will be interested in becoming SciStarter ambassadors – individuals who volunteering their time to bring citizen science projects to classrooms. If you think this might interest you, or would like more information don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.
I think it is safe to say the fair was a success. While, this year the fair was hosted by the Department of Energy, organizers plan to rotate the location in the upcoming years to encourage support from other agencies. I know I am looking forward to next year and just a high, if not higher, turnout!
Dr. Carolyn Graybeal holds a PhD in neuroscience from Brown University. She is a former National Academies of Science Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Fellow during which time she worked with the Marian Koshland Science Museum. In addition the intricacies of the human brain, she is interested in the influence of education and mass media in society’s understanding of science.