By Eva Lewandowski December 5th, 2015 at 5:53 pm | Comment
As monarch butterflies take their annual migratory trip to the west coast in winter, citizen scientists help researchers keep track with the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count. Find more migration projects on SciStarter!
Every autumn, the western North American population of monarch butterflies migrates from the lands west of the Rocky Mountains to the coast of California, where they spend the winter at about 200 sites scattered throughout the coastline. Last winter, I had a chance to visit the Monarch Grove in Santa Cruz, California, where thousands of monarchs were resting in eucalyptus trees and occasionally fluttering about in search of water or nectar. As a monarch conservation biologist who entered the field only after the monarch population plummeted in size, seeing the monarch overwintering in California was an amazing sight. In just one glance, I was able to see more monarchs in Santa Cruz’s Monarch Grove than I normally see in an entire summer. Unfortunately, even the thousands of monarchs I saw were just a fraction of the numbers once found at that overwintering site. Read the rest of this entry »
By Editorial Team November 24th, 2015 at 7:28 am | Comment
By Guest November 23rd, 2015 at 6:00 am | Comment
Interested in citizen science you can do on your phone? Check out these cool projects on SciStarter that let you contribute valuable data to research via cell phone apps!
by Nina Friedman
I was on a call with Teresa Murphy-Skorzova, Community Growth Manager for OpenSignal, an app that uses crowd-sourcing to aggregate cell phone signals and WiFi strength data throughout the world. Teresa began to explain how OpenSignal maps signal strength and how this process contrasts the way cell phone networks map it. “We aren’t following a pre-determined route like they are; we measure the amount of time a user has coverage, not the …” The connection becomes fuzzy. “Can you repeat that?” I ask.
Teresa wonders if my latency connection (a metric used to measure mobile data connection quality) is poor. She explains that while cell phone networks like Verizon and AT&T measure the percent of the population that usually has coverage, OpenSignal is “measuring the experience of the user,” mapping signals from the devices themselves in real time. Individuals record their connection as they go about their day. The app recognizes that people and their cell phone devices are, well… mobile. Read the rest of this entry »
By Editorial Team November 13th, 2015 at 9:07 am | Comment
By Kristin Butler November 10th, 2015 at 9:15 am | Comment
by Kristin Butler
About fifteen of us were gathered in a classroom one Thursday evening last month on San Francisco’s South Bay. We were there to hear a talk as part of a bat banding workshop and field demonstration at a riparian restoration site. The wildlife ecologist and bat expert who gave the talk explained why the nocturnal creatures deserve our protection and respect.
In the field the following night, we watched our teacher wade chest deep across a creek, deftly extract a tiny bat from a mist net by the light of his headlamp, and measure, observe, and band it back at our camp.
As I watched, I imagined what it would be like to be a scientist who gets to study and protect these fascinating animals every day, and I wondered if there was a way for a non-scientist like me to get involved. Read the rest of this entry »