Spectral Challenge is a call to makers, hackers, and Do-It-Yourselfers worldwide to tackle real-world environmental problems with low-cost, open source spectrometry.
What if there were an affordable device you could build yourself, take into your neighborhood and use to test for heavy metals, oil contamination, or other toxics, without needing to have a PhD or access to a lab?
There are two parts to the Spectral Challenge, Stage 1: Collaboration and Stage 2: Real World Use.
Stage 1 will be awarded to the team which publishes techniques and/or documentation which most dramatically improves the process of open source spectroscopy for the whole community. Stage 1 is open now; all entries must be posted on the Public Lab site by May 31, 2013. The winning team will receive $1000 from the prize pool.
The goal of Stage 2 is to use low cost open source spectral analysis to identify an environmental contaminant such as petroleum or heavy metals. Stage 2 will start on June 5, 2013; the winner of Stage 2 will take 80% of the prize pool -- 20% will go to Public Lab to continue organizing and promoting open source science.
Spectral Challenge 2013 is like an X Prize for DIY science, but it's crowdfunded -- this means that if you really believe in the goals of the Challenge, you should back them by donating to the prize pool! You can also help by getting the word out to find pool contributions!
MIT Climate CoLab
What should we do about climate change?
Somehow we have to answer this question. You can help. The Climate CoLab seeks to harness the collective intelligence of contributors from all over the world to develop solutions to the problem of global climate change.
In this online global forum, people can create, analyze and select detailed proposals outlining the actions they believe should be taken to address climate change.
eButterfly is a citizen science project that helps document butterflies in Canada. By creating a user profile and documenting observed butterflies, citizens can help scientists better understand butterfly distribution in Canada. Users can also track which butterflies they have observed on a dynamic map application, and share photos with the eButterfly community.
The 2,045 eButterfly records of over 170 species help the Canadian Facility for Ecoinformatics Research at the University of Ottawa's Department of Biology better understand how butterflies adapt to environmental change. Eventually, the data you collect will help contribute to the preservation of Canada’s great biodiversity.
THE BROAD PICTURE: The aim of MammalMAP is to update the distribution records of all African mammal species. Through collaborations with professional scientists, conservation organisations, wildlife authorities and citizen scientists across Africa, we consolidate all reliable and identifiable evidence (camera trap records, photographs) of current mammal locations into an open-access digital database. The database software automatically generates online distribution maps of all recorded species which are instantly visible and searchable. The information consolidated within MammalMAP will not only yield crucial information for species conservation policies and landscape conservation policies, but provides an excellent platform for educating the public about African mammals and their conservation challenges.
WHY MAMMALMAP IS NECESSARY: In Africa, our knowledge of mammal distribution patterns is based largely on historical records. However, the last three centuries have seen extensive human-modification of African landscapes with the associated conversion, compression and fragmentation of natural land. With further land development presenting a likely reality for the future, the effectiveness of mammal conservation efforts depends on ecological records being updated so that they accurately reflect mammal distribution patterns in the 21st Century. With MammalMAP we plan to conduct these ecological updates over the coming years, by mapping the current distribution of mammal species (including marine mammals and small mammals) across Africa.
HOW MAMMALMAP CONTRIBUTES TO CONSERVATION: The conservation benefits of this research are multiple. First, the comparison of these updated distribution records with both historical and future records will enable the detection of species’ distribution changes in response to human-related and climate-related habitat changes. These change detections will assist the guidance of continent-wide conservation policies and decision making processes. Second, the research will promote and facilitate interdisciplinary and international collaboration amongst scientists and conservation practitioners, with potential benefits to the advancement of conservation science. Finally, both the project input stage (data collection) and output stage (data dissemination) will offer interactive, dynamic and widely applicable education tools suitable for both formal and informal education sectors.
THE WHERE AND THE HOW OF MAMMALMAP: The area of interest for MammalMAP is the whole of Africa. To achieve this we collaborate with scientists, conservation organisations, wildlife authorities and citizen scientists across the continent. Our methods involve consolidating evidence of mammal occurrence in a given location (camera trap records, photographs and other reliable records) into a digital database hosted by the Animal Demography Unit (ADU) at the University of Cape Town. In time, we will use the records in the database to generate distribution maps for all recorded species, in the same way that the ADU has done for birds, reptiles, frogs and butterflies.
Research Assistant in Tropical Herpetology and Conservation Ecology
We are currently seeking research assistants to join our field team in Ecuador studying the conservation ecology of reptiles and amphibians.
While Ecuador is a relatively small country—it’s roughly the size of Arizona—it stands as the third most diverse country in the world for amphibians (510 species) and is seventh for reptiles (430 species), making it a herpetologically mega-diverse region. Due to the severe deforestation taking place in addition to many other pressures on Ecuador’s fauna, RAEI’s research program aims to study, document, and preserve these rich and unique communities of reptiles and amphibians found within the country’s diverse array of ecosystems.
As we are now in our 8th year working in Ecuador, we have study sites encompassing both the coastal forests in western Ecuador and the Amazon rainforest on the eastern side of the Andes Mountains. The work that research participants will be involved with will primarily consist of conducting night surveys for reptiles and amphibians (however other taxa such as invertebrates are also of interest), animal data collection, and lab work. Lab work consists of more detailed information such as scale counts (for reptiles) and other morphological information, animal measurements, screening for chytrid desease (amphibians), preservation (only when necessary), and acquisition of DNA samples. Diagnostic photographs of all animals are taken. Other tasks include animal handling and general note taking and data organization.