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The PopClock is a citizen science project in which volunteers are helping University of Vermont and University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science scientists study how forest trees are responding to rapidly changing climatic conditions. PopClock volunteers are collecting ground-based observations of spring leaf emergence and fall color change of two poplar species—balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera) and quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides). They submit these observation to one of our partner organizations--National Phenology Network (NPN), Project Budburst, and Plant Watch. Scientists are using these observations to create maps of “green-up” and “green-down,” which they will combine with genetic information to identify areas where trees are most and least adapted to climate change. In fall 2015 and spring 2016, a small group of PopClock volunteers are also working with scientists to examine the use tiny remote sensors to measure forest phenology; this work includes an an all-expenses-paid trip to Vermont to learn about the sensors! PopClock is part of a larger research grant funded by National Science Fund. Please visit our website for more information; note our website includes a link for an application to join our special team of volunteer working with the remote sensors (due Sept 1 2015).
HerpMapper is a cooperative project, designed to gather and share information about reptile and amphibian observations across the planet. Using HerpMapper, you can create records of your herp observations and keep them all in one place. In turn, your data is made available to HerpMapper Partners – groups who use your recorded observations for research, conservation, and preservation purposes. Your observations can make valuable contributions on the behalf of amphibians and reptiles.
NASA's SMAP Satellite Mission
NASA recently launched the SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive) satellite which is orbiting the globe every three days to measure soil moisture levels. This data will be used to improve weather forecasts, detail water/energy/carbon cycles, monitor droughts, predict floods, and assist crop productivity.
Participants from every state will collect and analyze soil samples from September through June.
-register your location(s)
Sign up as an individual or team. One team in each state will receive equipment from NASA needed for this project including a heat lamp and graduated cylinder. SciStarter will sell and loan full kits including a heat lamp, graduated cylinder, and balance. A complete list of materials is available on the sign up form, here: http://www.goo.gl/forms/rnUEuAJ4Tu .
Habitat Restoration Bird Monitoring
MUVE (Museum Volunteers for the Environment) is Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science's volunteer-led coastal habitat restoration project. Because habitat restoration creates considerable ecological change, we are monitoring the ecosystem responses to that change using bird habitat use as an indicator. Citizen scientists complete a weekly or monthly transect walk of the site and note the category of birds they observe, so species identification skills are not necessary.
Connecticut Turtle Atlas
With approximately 58 percent of the world’s 335 turtle species threatened with extinction, turtles are the most endangered vertebrate group in the world. The Bruce Museum in Greenwich invites people to help turtles with the launch of the Connecticut Turtle Atlas Citizen Science project.
The unassuming turtle is seldom on the mind of most people, but they are a top priority for many conservation biologists. Turtles can play key ecological roles, serving as both predators and prey, contributing to the cycling of nutrients, and acting as seed dispersers.
The state of Connecticut is home to twelve native turtle species that inhabit our woodlands, wetlands, and even the waters of Long Island Sound. The primary threats to turtles in the state include habitat loss and traffic-related highway mortality. Worldwide, turtles are negatively affected by threats such as collection for food and pets, disease, and changing climates, as well as habitat loss and fragmentation.
The goals of the Bruce Museum’s Connecticut Turtle Atlas include developing a public understanding of turtle ecology, promoting ways in which people can help turtles, and gathering research-quality data for use in publication and sharing with scientists.
Citizen Science harnesses the passion of the public to become amateur researchers, which helps not only with the gathering of important data on a wide scale but also with inspiring a new generation of future scientists. Citizen Science provides fun and interesting projects with real-world implications, breaks down barriers between society and scientist, opens discussion on STEM subjects and current events, shares research outcomes, and acknowledges participants’ important contributions.
Track a Tree
Are you are a regular visitor to your local woodland? If so, Track a Tree needs your help to record the spring timing (or phenology) of the UK’s woodland trees and the flowering plants that grow beneath them. Track a Tree aims to find out how much woodland species vary their seasonal timing, and how tree leafing affects the flowering of plants on the woodland floor.
We need volunteers to become citizen ecologists and record trees in their local woodland during spring, visiting on a weekly basis if possible. Track a Tree recorders are asked to monitor their chosen trees from before they budburst until they come into leaf, so the key recording period is usually between March and May. Track a Tree monitoring involves selecting a tree (or trees!) and revisiting it throughout spring to record its leafing stage and monitor the flowering plants beneath it.
As spring temperatures rise the leafing of trees is getting earlier and we are interested in testing whether woodland flowers can keep up with this change. With the help of citizen ecologists monitoring trees across the UK, we can see whether woodlands in warm parts of the country do as well as those from colder areas.
The Track a Tree project would suit anyone who regularly visits their local woodland; individuals, families, education groups… all are welcome to take part! Download the field guide from our website, get recording and share your observations to see how they compare with the rest of the UK.