Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.
Over its first two years of operations, NEPTUNE Canada has recorded thousands of hours of video, both during installation dives and from underwater cameras installed across its subsea network. All this video needs to be studied, but the organization’s software is not yet sophisticated enough to automatically identify a wide variety of animals and other features. By playing Digital Fishers, citizen scientists help researchers gather data from video, and unveil the mechanisms shaping the animal communities inhabiting the deep.
NEPTUNE Canada and the University of Victoria’s Centre for Global Studies (CFGS) developed Digital Fishers with help from $1 million in funding from CANARIE, Canada's Advanced Research and Innovation Network.
Discarded metal, fishing gear, plastic, glass and other waste can both sully a beach and pose a health threat to its inhabitants. That’s why the NOAA Marine Debris Division and the Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative (SEA-MDI), located within the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia, have developed the Marine Debris Tracker mobile app. This iPhone and Android software lets you check in when you find trash on our coastlines and waterways.
The project’s goal is to spread awareness of marine debris, as well as serve as an easy-to-use and simple tool for marine debris data collection. Citizen scientists can provide feedback individually or at email@example.com.
Given that the majority of debris tracking might take place in remote areas or even on the water, where there is likely no WiFi or even a cell signal, citizen scientists can log and track as many items as they want and store this info in their smartphones until they return to a place where they can wirelessly submit their findings.
Natural history museums across the world share a common goal—to make scientific data accessible to those who would use it. Zooniverse’s Notes from Nature project gives citizen scientists the opportunity to make a scientifically important contribution. Every transcription that is completed brings researchers closer to filling gaps in our knowledge of global biodiversity. Help museum staff and scientists by transcribing the labels and ledgers that have been meticulously recorded and stored for the very reason that they might be someday be useful.
People have been collecting specimens from the natural world for centuries—minerals, plants, fungi and animals. Today, there are an estimated two billion specimens housed in natural history museums around the world! These biological collections document where species and populations exist now and where they existed decades and centuries before, so they hold irreplaceable information necessary for uncovering the patterns of changes in species distributions and ecosystem composition over time. Scientists use such data and information in order to address key environmental issues we are facing right now, such as the impacts of climate change and how diseases affect wildlife and humans.
For the information held in these collections to be used to its full potential there must be better digital access to these data. Most natural history collections are housed in museum cabinets, where they are not easily available to citizens and researchers. Only a small fraction of all natural history specimens is available digitally over the Internet, while the vast majority remains locked away from view in an inflexible, limited format. The Notes from Nature transcription project is a citizen science platform built to address this problem by digitizing the world’s biological collections one record at a time!
The National Severe Storms Laboratory’s (NSSL) Precipitation Identification Near the Ground (PING) project is looking for citizen scientists who can report on certain weather conditions—hail and winter weather, in particular—from the ground. NSSL, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), collects weather information from Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) during storm events. However, these Doppler radars cannot see close to the ground. Through PING, NSSL wants to compare its radar findings with citizen-science observations.
Citizen scientists can report their findings using iPhone or Android apps, or via a Web browser. The mPING apps were designed as a scientific tool to help us fulfill two very specific applied research missions: winter surface precipitation type and hail occurrence/size.
Conducted in Partnership with the Road Ecology Center', The UC Davis Road Ecology Center’s Road Kill project brings together researchers and policy makers from ecology and transportation to design sustainable transportation systems based on an understanding of the impact of roads on natural landscapes and human communities.
Wildlife live almost everywhere people do, although we often take these creatures and their natural habitats for granted. As a result, we are also losing wildlife at an alarming rate. Roads crisscross many landscapes, providing a convenient place from which to see certain wildlife. Unfortunately, this is also where many animals die, hit by cars or trucks. The Road Kill project collects observations of wildlife along roads (and off them too) to create a better understanding of where they live and where they are moving to. In the case of road kill, researchers also want to understand what causes road kill, which animals are affected, whether or not there are road kill "hotspots" and what can be done to reduce road kill impacts on wildlife.
By contributing wildlife observation data, citizen scientists help researchers understand where wildlife live and the threats they face from (mostly) human activities. Don't worry if you can't identify an animal to the species level right away. A picture will help researchers to do it, and just saying "rabbit" or "hawk" is useful information too.
Canadian herpetologists (scientists who study amphibians and reptiles) are studying declines in various species, hoping to determine causes and possible solutions. Volunteer monitoring programs such as FrogWatch Canada are important because they are often the first signal that a particular species is declining. If such programs were up and running in the late 1970s we would have a much better idea why Northern Leopard Frogs declined across the prairies.
Around the world amphibians are declining. This is occurring in pristine wilderness areas as well as severely modified suburban wetlands. It is unlikely that there is only one global cause of this decline, rather amphibians are being affected by a variety of causes, including increased UV radiation and chemical pollutants. Some species, such as the Golden Toad of Costa Rica and possibly as many as seven species from Australia are now extinct. The loss of the Golden Toad is particularly sobering as it became extinct despite the fact that its habitat was protected in a large nature reserve.
FrogWatch Canada—not to be confused with FrogWatch USA—is part of the NatureWatch program managed by the University of Ottawa Laboratory for Integrated Environmental & Policy Change in collaboration with Nature Canada.
Project MERCCURI (Microbial Ecology Research Combining Citizen and University Researchers on ISS) is an investigation of how microbes found in buildings on Earth—in particular public buildings such as stadiums—compare to those on board the biggest building ever built in space: the International Space Station.
The project lets citizen and student scientists participate in the research using kits to collect microbes from surface areas in buildings. Amateur scientists can form a team or join a team to collect samples through September 2013. Collected samples will be mailed to the University of California, Davis, where they will be sequenced. Results will be shared on the SciStarter citizen science Web site so participants can compare their samples to those from other locations, including the International Space Station.
Project MERCCURI kicks off at the National Science Teachers Association conference in San Antonio, Texas, on April 11 where project leaders will distribute free kits and teach teachers how to collect samples. Participants will use a sample kit with a q-tip to swab surface areas. Samples will then be analyzed at U.C. Davis, for identification through DNA sequencing.
In addition, up to 40 samples will be selected to fly in September on the International Space Station, where their growth rates in microgravity will be monitored using a device called the microplate reader and compared to their counterparts in the U.C. Davis lab.
SciStarter is teaming up with our sister site, Science Cheerleader (an organization of more than 250 current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders who are also scientists and engineers) and scientists at the U.C. Davis to conduct this research.
Public radio station WNYC invites families, armchair scientists and lovers of nature to join in a bit of mass science: Track the cicadas that emerge once every 17 years across New Jersey, New York State and the whole Northeast by building homemade sensors and reporting your observations.
Magicicada Brood II will make its 17-year appearance when the ground eight inches down is a steady 64 degrees Fahrenheit/17.8 degrees Celsius. Help predict the arrival by planting a homemade temperature sensor in the ground and reporting your findings back to WNYC. We'll put them on a map and share your observations of this once-in-a-generation discovery with our entire community.
The whole detector costs about $80 in parts and takes about two hours to build. You'll want it in the ground by mid-April, the earliest the cicadas are likely to emerge.
Hummingbirds at Home is a new citizen science project from the National Audubon Society designed to help scientists understand how climate change, flowering patterns and feeding by people are impacting hummingbirds.
On the Hummingbirds at Home website citizen scientists can track, report on and follow the spring hummingbird migration in real time. There is also a free mobile app to make it easy to report sightings, share photos and learn more about these birds.
Citizen Scientists can participate on a number of levels--reporting a single sighting or documenting hummingbird activity in their community throughout the life of the project, for example. Help Audubon scientists document the hummingbirds' journey and direct change in the future to ensure these birds do not disappear.
University of Delaware researchers working with mid-Atlantic scallop fishermen invite citizen scientists to help survey the scallop population in the New York Bight, off the coasts of New York, New Jersey and Delaware by analyzing undersea images captured by a robot submarine named Dora. The SubseaObserver approach is designed to cover more terrain in less time while leaving the undersea environment undisturbed.
Citizen scientists view images of the seabed taken by Dora and submit their observations to project scientists, who in turn send information compiled from many citizen-scientist reports to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other agencies to manage the mid-Atlantic’s scallop population.
The Snowtweets Project provides a way for people interested in snow measurements to quickly broadcast their own snow depth measurements to the Web. These data are then picked up by the project’s database and mapped in near real time. Snow and ice researchers at the University of Waterloo, Canada, are especially interested in using Web-based digital technologies to map snow depth data; currently, the project uses the micro-blogging site Twitter as its data broadcasting scheme.
Visualization of data is a key aspect of the project. To view the snow depth measurements (or tweets), the Waterloo researchers have developed a data visualization tool called Snowbird that lets you explore the reported snow depths around the globe. You can also click on the navigation link (visualization) at the top of the page that will take you there. The viewer shows where the reports are located and how much snow there is at each reported site.
The researchers have also developed a near real-time satellite data feed so citizen scientists can see how the tweets compare with the satellite view. Snowbird will allow you to toggle real-time satellite NASA MODIS data which gives snow cover extent. You can also look at some historical maps for north America.
IceWatch USA, a program of nonprofit Nature Abounds, brings citizen scientists the opportunity to help professional researchers study how our climate is changing. In as little as 10 minutes, citizen scientists can report information that will help to analyze how climate will change in different regions of the United States, and how ecosystems are reacting to the change. IceWatch USA is modeled after and a proud partner of Ice Watch Canada.
Due to the increased emissions of greenhouse gases, among other factors, the climate is changing. Accurately recording and analyzing "ice on" and "ice off" events (also known as ice phenology) as well as other factors like snow depth, air temperature and wildlife observations offers a practical way to learn how climate change affects our environment. Even if you live in a Southern State that doesn't experience ice, your winter observations are still important for the "big" picture, including air temperature, precipitation and wildlife viewing.
University of Minnesota researchers set up hundreds of cameras to cover more than 2,500 square kilometers throughout Africa’s Serengeti ecosystem initially to study lions. Now the researchers are looking to expand their knowledge via the Snapshot Serengeti citizen science project to better understand how competing species coexist in a shared environment.
Researchers Ali Swanson and Margaret Kosmala, working with Craig Packer, professor of ecology, evolution and behavior, have developed a site to enlist volunteers to identify millions of “camera trap” photos taken to study animal behavior in the Serengeti.
Citizen scientists view sequences of two or three photos and identify all the different animals that appear in the photos.
Here’s one for hockey fans. In 2012, scientists in Montreal warned there will be fewer outdoor skating days in the future. Their predictions are based on the results of data taken from weather stations across Canada over the last 50 years. In some regions, they warn there may one day be no more backyard rinks at all. Remember the story of how Wayne Gretzky learned to play hockey on the backyard rink his father made for him in Brantford, Ontario? The scientists’ report says some day that will no longer be possible – at least, not in Brantford.
This prompted a group of geographers at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, to create RinkWatch. They want outdoor rink lovers across North America and elsewhere to tell report on their rinks. Pin the location of your rink on the researchers’ map, and then each winter record every day that you are able to skate on it. The researchers will gather up all the information from all the backyard rinks and use it to track the changes in climate.
The Genographic Project is a multiyear research initiative that uses cutting-edge genetic and computational technologies to analyze historical patterns in DNA from participants around the world to better understand our human genetic roots.
By participating in the latest phase of this real-time scientific project, you can learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible. You will also help support the Genographic Legacy Fund, which works to conserve and revitalize indigenous cultures around the world.
The three components of the project are:
The Genographic Project is anonymous, nonmedical, and nonprofit, and all results are placed in the public domain following scientific peer publication. For more details, visit: Genographic.nationalgeographic.com/about/
UPDATE: Please send your video submissions to the researchers by March 31, 2013.
The Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab in NYC is investigating the different ways people and dogs play together, and we need your help (well, you and your dog’s help). We are cataloguing all the ways people play with their dogs and asking dog owners to submit short videos of their own dog-human play.
Project: Play with Your Dog is open to anyone, in any country. If you live with a dog, we want to see you play.
To participate, find or make a 30-60 second video of you and your dog playing in whatever way you like to play together, and then upload the video to our website and complete a short survey. You are also invited to add a picture of you and your dog to our Wall of Contributors.
By participating in Project: Play with Your Dog, citizen scientists are providing valuable information into the nuances and intricacies of our relationships with dogs.
The ruffed grouse is a forest species widely distributed across New York State. While some grouse are found in more mature forests, the greatest population densities are in younger-aged forests. These species prefer habitats in an early stage of succession such as young forests, shrublands, and old orchards and fields. As New York's forests grow older, these preferred habitats are declining, resulting in a decline in grouse and woodcock numbers since the 1960s. Turkey hunters in pursuit of that wary gobbler this spring are ideally suited for monitoring ruffed grouse during the breeding season.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) currently monitors grouse populations in the fall through the Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log where hunters record the number of birds flushed per hour of hunting effort. The Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey provides a harvest-independent index of grouse distribution and abundance during the critical breeding season in the spring. Grouse and woodcock share many of the same habitats, so the information you provide will help monitor populations of both of these great game birds as habitats change both locally and on a landscape scale.
Halloween may be over for another year, but citizen scientists can still help their professional peers better understand these nocturnal creatures by listening to recordings and identifying different bat calls. The goal is to use citizen-science classifications to create software that researchers worldwide can use to extract information from bat recordings, making it really easy to track bat populations. This will make understanding how bat populations are being effected by global change much easier.
Bat Detective begins its journey in Europe and, over the course of the project will release data from more areas from around the world. In Europe, there are more than 40 species of bats, and all use echolocation to eat insects. Most species hibernate to escape the food shortage in insects during the winter. Others migrate to other parts of Europe during winter, but very little is known about which species do this. In the summer, most species split into separate female and male roosts (in buildings, tree cavities, under bridges, caves), where the males just chill out whilst the females busily gather insects to raise their baby. During the autumn the males and females come back together again to mate and then don’t emerge again until the next spring.
Many believe that monitoring the status of bat populations can help tell us about the health of a natural environment as a whole; the bats serve as an early warning, like a canary in a coal mine. This is because bat species are distributed all over the world, and provide lots of services to humans through controlling pests by eating vast quantities of insects and pollinating and dispersing commercially important crops (for example bananas, tequila).
Bat Detective is a partnership project between University College London, Zoological Society of London, The Bat Conservation Trust, BatLife Europe, University of Auckland, and the Citizen Science Alliance.
Description: NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, established SKYWARN in the 1970s with partner organizations as a volunteer program to help keep local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service.
SKYWARN storm spotters are part of the ranks of citizens who form the nation’s first line of defense against severe weather. Although SKYWARN spotters provide essential information for all types of weather hazards, the main responsibility of a SKYWARN spotter is to identify and describe severe local storms. In the average year, 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods and more than 1,000 tornadoes occur across the United States.
NWS encourages anyone with an interest in public service and access to communication, such HAM radio, to join the SKYWARN program. Volunteers include police and fire personnel, dispatchers, EMS workers, public utility workers and other concerned private citizens. Individuals affiliated with hospitals, schools, churches, nursing homes or who have a responsibility for protecting others are also encouraged to become a spotter.
The Canadian Lakes Loon Survey (CLLS) is a long-term, volunteer-based project designed to monitor the breeding success of loons on lakes across Canada. Its goals are to help conserve loons by engaging participants in monitoring and education activities, and use loon productivity as a long-term indicator of the health of freshwater lakes.
The CLLS was initiated in Ontario in 1981 by Bird Studies Canada, and expanded nationally in 1989. Human disturbance and development are ongoing threats to loons. Loon surveyors tell us they observe many activities that are detrimental to loons including: disturbance of nesting sites (as a result of boats, canoes, jet skiis, and water level changes); discarding of entangling debris (fishing lines and domestic garbage); inadvertently attracting and supporting nest predators (raccoons, skunks, and gulls); and displacement of loons through habitat loss.
Ultimately, local human disturbance can be minimized when people are sensitive to needs of loons. As more people move into loon country, promoting loon-friendly activities is increasingly important. Loon surveyors' continue to play a key educational role through distributing brochures, creating informative displays, erecting signs, building nest platforms, addressing local concerns, and, of course, tracking loon chick survival over their first, critical summer.
Citizen Scientists are needed to promote Loon-friendly lakes, build floating Loon nesting platforms, collect Loon eggs and carcasses and identify threats to these birds.
NASA scientists are interested in learning how clouds affect our atmosphere, particularly because clouds play a role in affecting Earth's overall temperature and energy balance. The space agency's Students' Cloud Observations Online (S'COOL) Project involves students (ages 5-20+) in real science, making and reporting ground truth observations of clouds to assist in the validation of NASA's CERES (Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System) satellite instruments.
Citizen scientists participating in S'COOL 1) obtain satellite overpass schedules, 2) observe and report clouds within +/-15 minutes of the satellite's passage, 3) compare and classify the agreement between the ground and satellite views.
Participation is available either as a classroom project or individually. Citizen scientist observations help NASA validate satellite data and give the space agency a more complete picture of clouds in the atmosphere and their interactions with other parts of the integrated global Earth system. Observations are sent to NASA for comparison to similar information obtained from satellites. Reports from a wide range of locations are helpful to assess the satellite data under different conditions.
The YardMap Network collects data by asking individuals across the country to literally draw maps of their backyards, parks, farms, favorite birding locations, schools and gardens. The network connects citizen scientists with their landscape details and provide tools for them to make better decisions about how to manage landscapes sustainably.
YardMap is also an interactive citizen scientist social network. Participants are instantly connected to the work of like-minded individuals in their neighborhoods, and across the country. Together they can become a conservation community focused on sharing strategies, maps and successes to build more bird habitat.
The project seeks to answer the following questions:
What practices improve the wildlife value of residential landscapes?
Which of these practices have the greatest impact?
Over how large an area do we have to implement these practices to really make a difference?
What impact do urban and suburban wildlife corridors and stopover habitats have on birds?
Which measures (bird counts? nesting success?) show the greatest impacts of our practices?
After being parasitized by the Apocephalus borealis fly, infected zombie-like bees abandon their hives and congregate near outside lights, moving in increasingly erratic circles before dying.
In response to this odd phenomenon researchers have launched ZomBeeWatch.org, a citizen science project to report possible sightings of the parasitized bees. The researchers hope to find out how far the parasite has spread and how many honeybee hives might be affected. So far, the Zombie Fly has been found parasitizing honeybees in California and South Dakota. Help researchers determine if the fly has spread to honeybees across North America.
The ZomBeeWatch site asks people to collect bees that appear to have died underneath outside lights, or appear to be behaving strangely under the lights, in a container or in a glassine envelope. They can then watch for signs that indicate the bee was parasitized by the fly, which usually deposits its eggs into a bee's abdomen. About seven days after the bee dies, fly larvae push their way into the world from between the bee’s head and thorax and form brown, pill-shaped pupae that are equivalent to a butterfly’s chrysalis.
National Moth Week brings together everyone interested in moths to celebrate these amazing insects. This summer, groups and individuals from across the country will spend some time during National Moth Week looking for moths and sharing what they've found. To get involved during National Moth Week: attend a National Moth Night event, start an event, join friends and neighbors to check porch lights from time to time, set up a light and see what is in your own backyard, or read literature about moths, etc.
With more than 10,000 species in North America alone, moths offer endless options for study, education, photography, and fun. Moths can be found everywhere from inner cities and suburban backyards, to the most wild and remote places. Their colors and patterns range from bright and dazzling, to so cryptic that they define camouflage. Moth shapes and sizes span the gamut, with some as small as a pinhead and others as large as a hand.
Most moths are nocturnal and need to be sought at night to be seen, but others fly like butterflies during the day. Finding moths can be as simple as leaving a porch light on and checking it after dark. Serious moth aficionados use special lights and baits to attract them.
For more than a century researchers have been unearthing known and unknown literary texts as well as the private documents and letters that could improve their understanding of the ancient lives of Graeco-Roman Egypt. Yet many of these papyri have remained unstudied due to a lack of resources. These writings have been digitized, but there is such a large number of images to examine that the researchers are inviting volunteers to help catalogue and transcribe the text via the Web.
Zooniverse has set up the Ancient Lives project to help Oxford papyrologists and researchers, the Imaging Papyri Project, the Oxyrhynchus Papyri Project, the Egypt Exploration Society and other institutions with this work. For more details, visit the Ancient Lives site.
Alan Turing, perhaps best known for helping crack Germany's Enigma Code during World War II, was fascinated by how math works in nature. Turing noticed that the Fibonacci sequence, often occurred in sunflower seed heads. (By definition, the first two numbers in the Fibonacci sequence are 0 and 1, and each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two.) He hoped that by studying the plant it might help us understand how plants grow but died before he could finish his work.
MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry, Manchester), the Manchester Science Festival and The University of Manchester are paying tribute to Turing in a mass experiment to grow 3,000 sunflowers. If enough people grow, researchers can collect sufficient data to put Turing's and other scientists' theories to the test.
All participants in the Turing's Sunflower's project need to do is grow a sunflower, keep the seed head and take part in the head count in September and October. For that, participants will be able to take their seed head to one of our special counting locations, or post their 'spiral counts' online. Researchers at The University of Manchester will then collate the data, and the results will be announced during the Manchester Science Festival, which runs from October 27 through November 4. Everyone who submits data from their sunflower will be included as part of the Turing's Sunflowers group and referred to in academic publications that result from the experiment.
Citizen scientists can help notify researchers when orcas are in the Salish Sea, a network of coastal waterways located between the southwestern tip of Canada's British Columbia and the northwestern tip of Washington State.
The Salish Sea Hydrophone Network is looking for volunteers to help monitor the critical habitat of endangered Pacific Northwest killer whales by detecting orca sounds and measuring ambient noise levels. Volunteers are especially needed to help notify researchers when orcas are in the Salish Sea, which encompasses the waters of Puget Sound and the surrounding area.
Sponsored by a coalition of organizations, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Whale Museum in Olympia, Wash., the network consists of five hydrophones, microphones used underwater for recording or listening to underwater sounds. Each hydrophone is hooked up to a computer to analyze the signal and stream it via the Internet.
Even though software is used to distinguish animal from other underwater sound, human ears do a better job. So volunteers monitor the network from their home computers anywhere in the world, and alert the rest of the network when they hear whale sounds. Sometimes boats or onshore monitors are deployed to observe the whales while they are making sounds. Researchers hope to learn more about the uses of orca communications and whale migration patterns.
Native Buzz is a Citizen Science project created by the University of Florida (U.F.) Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab. The goal is to learn more about the nesting preferences, diversity and distribution of native solitary bees and wasps, share the information gained and provide a forum for those interested in participating in the science and art of indigenous beekeeping (and wasp-keeping!). At U.F. Native Buzz, citizen scientists can keep track of their own native buzz nest site and see the results of other participant's nest sites.
The North American Bird Phenology Program (BPP), part of the USA-National Phenology Network, was a network of volunteer observers who recorded information on first arrival dates, maximum abundance and departure dates of migratory birds across North America. (Phenology is the study of the timing of natural events.) Active between 1880 and 1970, the BPP was coordinated by the federal government and sponsored by the American Ornithologists' Union. It exists now as a historic collection of six million migration card observations, illuminating almost a century of migration patterns and population status of birds.
Today these records are being scanned and placed on the Internet so the information can be curated and made publicly available. Become one of the many volunteers worldwide who transcribe these records on the BPP Web site and add them into a database for analysis. This will allow the migration records to become accessible to the public and to scientists for analysis.
The Wildlife Health Event Reporter (WHER) is an experimental tool that hopes to harness the power of the many eyes of the public to better detect these changes. WHER is part of the Wildlife Health Monitoring Network, a Web-based open source system with interchangeable modules that support data entry, storage, reporting, analysis and exchange in collaboration with many partners, including the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center, University of Wisconsin Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and University of Wisconsin Division of Information Technology (DoIT).
Currently in a public Beta release, WHER is a Web-based application launched to record wildlife observations by citizens concerned about dead or sick wildlife. After being recorded, these observations are joined with other wildlife sightings and are viewable in tabular reports or on a map, enabling people to see where similar events are happening. Natural resource managers, researchers, and public health officials use this information to protect the well-being of all living things and promote a healthy ecosystem.
Nature's Notebook is a national plant and animal phenology observation project that lets citizen scientists record observations that scientists, educators, policy makers and resource managers can use to understand how plants and animals are responding to climate change and other environmental changes. The project has more than 900,000 entries covering 16,000 individual plants and animals at 5,000 sites.
Scientific American added Nature's Notebook to its Citizen Science listings a year ago, and researchers at the USA-National Phenology Network, which manages the project, want the data to keep on coming, particularly as they study the weak winter of 2012.
The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) is a citizen science project involving volunteers from across the United States and Canada in monarch research. It was developed by researchers at the University of Minnesota to collect long-term data on larval monarch populations and milkweed habitat.
The overarching goal of the project is to better understand how and why monarch populations vary in time and space, with a focus on monarch distribution and abundance during the breeding season in North America.
This project should not be confused with Project MonarchHealth.
Thousands of FeederWatchers in communities across North America count birds and send their tallies to the FeederWatch database, creating a treasure trove of statistics that FeederWatch scientists analyze to draw a picture of winter bird abundance and distribution. FeederWatch data show which bird species visit feeders at thousands of locations across the continent every winter. The data also indicate how many individuals of each species are seen. This information can be used to measure changes in the winter ranges and abundances of bird species over time.
FeederWatch data provide a picture of weekly changes in bird distribution and abundance across the United States and Canada. Importantly, FeederWatch data tell us where birds are as well as where they are not. This crucial information enables scientists to piece together the most accurate population maps.
FeederWatch is a joint research and education project of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada. They have provided an instructional video on the FeederWatchers Web site.
Wildlife Sightings offers nature enthusiasts a way of contributing information and photos of wildlife sightings to a global public citizen science database. One of the project's goals is to lower the technical barriers and costs for organizations to set up and run local citizen science projects.
Did You Feel It? is a Web site produced by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to tap the abundant information available about earthquakes from the people who actually experience them. By taking advantage of the vast numbers of Internet users, USGS seeks to get a more complete description of what people experienced, the effects of the earthquake and the extent of damage. With the help of citizen scientists, USGS can do this almost instantly.
By contributing experience of the earthquake, either immediately afterward, or whenever it is possible for to do so, citizen scientists will have made a contribution to the scientific body of information about this earthquake. They will also ensure that their areas have been represented in the compilation of the shaking map. This is a two-way street. Not only will citizen scientists add valuable information on the extent of ground shaking and damage, but in the process USGS hopes citizen scientists will learn more about how other communities fared and gain a greater understanding of the effects of earthquakes.
Bee Hunt! was designed to teach and learn about pollination ecology and other aspects of natural history. Citizen scientists can either choose to inventory bees and all other natural history at a site, or they can design an experiment that compares pollinators at two different patches of flowers.
When inventorying a site, choose a time when pollinators are likely to be out (a sunny day with some flowers present) and follow the steps listed on the Bee Hunt! Web site. Organizers also provide tips on how to design one's own experiment.
Bee Hunt is funded by the U. S. Department of Interior's National Biological Information Infrastructure and by the National Science Foundation. It is a partner of PollinatorLive, which is funded by the USDA Forest Service and other sponsors. Although organizers claim that Bee Hunt! is not citizen science, the project matches Scientific American's definition of a citizen science project. Bee Hunt!'s organizers seek to emphasize that the project follows "rigorous research protocols and error-checking methods and adhere to the highest quality methods of data collection."
Texasinvasives.org is a statewide partnership to manage non-native invasive plants and pests in Texas that includes state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, green industry, academia and other private and public stakeholders who share in the common goal of protecting Texas from the threat of invasive species.
Because this is no small endeavor Texasinvasives.org has established a citizen science program called Invaders of Texas. Volunteers participating in the program are trained to detect the arrival and dispersal of invasive species in their own local areas. That information is delivered into a statewide mapping database and to those who can do something about it.
The Invaders of Texas Program supports the creation and perpetuation of a network of local citizen scientist teams who seek out and report outbreaks of selected environmentally and economically harmful invasive species. These teams, coordinated by the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, contribute important data to local and national resource managers who will, in turn, coordinate appropriate responses to control the spread of unwanted invaders.
The National Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is an early-winter bird census, where thousands of citizen scientists across the US, Canada and many countries in the Western Hemisphere, go out over a 24 hour period to count birds.
Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 24-kilometer diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear all day. It’s not just a species tally—all birds are counted all day, giving an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day. All CBC’s are conducted in the period from December 14 to January 5 each season, and each count is conducted in one calendar day.
The data collected by observers over the past century allow researchers, conservation biologists and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, it provides a picture of how the continent's bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years.
North Caroline State University (NCSU) researchers are studying the species living with us on our bodies as well as in the other biomes of our homes. As humans have moved from mud and thatch huts into pre-fab houses and highrise apartments, the biggest change has been our web of ecological connections. We have gone from lives immersed in nature to lives in which nature appears to have disappeared. It has not. What has changed is which species live with us.
In the Wildlife of Your Home Project, NCSU researchers propose to study that change and more specifically to ask, "To what extent do the species around us, particularly those microscopic species of which we are scarcely aware, differ as a consequence of how we live?" As of now, the answer, particularly as it relates to small species, is unresolved, though frequently speculated upon.
The project needs volunteers to take very simple samples of their houses. The researchers will send a sampling kit (composed of vials, cotton swabs, directions and some questions). Citizen scientists take the vials and swab dust from key biomes of their homes, including door frames, refrigerators, couch cushions and themselves. Participants will then be able to compare their results to those of more urban and rural houses across North America (and, ultimately, the world).
The weathering rates of gravestones are an indication of changes in the acidity of rainfall between locations and over time. The acidity is affected by air pollution and other factors, and could be used as a measure of changes in climate and pollution levels.
The Gravestone Project has two levels of data collection. The first is the location of graveyards, which requires the use of a GPS. The second is the measurement of the weathering of marble and other gravestones, which requires a micrometer. Citizen scientists can participate in either or both tasks.
Roads are directly responsible for the deaths of reptiles and amphibians in Massachusetts during seasonal migrations to nesting sites, seasonal migrations from uplands to breeding wetlands, movement between wetlands and thermoregulation (basking) on road surfaces. Causeways and other roads that bisect wetlands alter natural habitats by providing avenues by which invasive plants species can colonize wetlands and nesting areas, altering natural hydrology of wetland systems, altering storm water runoff and drainage, providing avenues for road salts and pollutants and the direct loss of habitat due to land-clearing and paving.
Roads also fragment and isolate turtle habitats by establishing a barrier to migration and the movement of individuals. They also tend to create habitats—grassy or sandy roadside shoulders, for example—that are attractive but dangerous to turtles, leading to an increase in road kill.
The Turtle Roadway Mortality Study aims to minimize the impact of roads and traffic on rare and non-game wildlife, while improving highway safety, through cost-effective research, planning, and implementation of partnerships with citizens and communities of Massachusetts. Citizen scientists are encouraged to contribute data about where turtles are most endangered by roadways and learn more about proactive efforts to protect turtles and other wildlife in Massachusetts.
Dragonfly researchers know that dragonflies swarm. They also know that there are two different kinds of swarms: static feeding swarms (the dragonflies fly repeatedly over a well-defined area and fairly close to the ground, usually feeding on clouds of small insects) and migratory swarms (hundreds to millions of dragonflies flying in a single direction in massive groups, often 15-30 meters above the ground). However, these swarms are very difficult to study because they are incredibly ephemeral events. You have to be in the right place at the right time to see one and many people will go their entire lives without ever witnessing a swarm.
The Dragonfly Swarm Project uses the power of the internet to allow everyone to participate in a large-scale study of dragonfly swarming behavior. Participants observe dragonfly swarms wherever they occur, make observations of the composition and behavior of the swarm, then submit a report online. Data is compiled from the reports by an aquatic entomologist with a passion for dragonflies.
Have you seen a jellyfish, red tide, a squid, or other unusual marine life recently? If so, tell us about it! JellyWatch marine biologists need help from citizen scientists to develop a better understanding of the ocean. If you've been on the beach or in the ocean lately, you can contribute to a long-term dataset by telling us about the animals you saw or the conditions of the beach. You can help us even more by submitting a picture of what you saw.
Rainlog.org is a cooperative rainfall monitoring network for Arizona developed at The University of Arizona by SAHRA (Sustainability of semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas) and the school's cooperative extension. Data collected through this network will be used for a variety of applications, including watershed management activities and drought planning at local, county and state levels.
Official rain gauges in Arizona are few and far between. The large gaps in coverage are a particular problem where precipitation amounts are highly variable due to topography and seasonal weather patterns. This is especially true during the monsoon season, when thunderstorms can produce heavy rainfall that is very localized.
All data posted by volunteers is available in real-time in maps useful in tracking high-resolution variability in precipitation patterns and potential changes in drought status. As more people participate and more information is gathered, the resolution of the maps will improve.
Citizen scientists are asked to track daily or monthly precipitation amounts. Daily observations should ideally be recorded as close to 7 a.m. as possible. Each daily observation will cover the previous 24 hours and represent the previous calendar day. This is consistent with the National Weather Service Cooperative Observer Program monitoring protocol.
In 2007, the Field Museum of Natural History, Harvard University, Marine Biological Laboratory, Smithsonian Institution and Biodiversity Heritage Library joined together to initiate the Encyclopedia of Life, an ongoing collaboration among its cornerstone institutions and international partners, with the common goal to gather and share knowledge about all forms of life. The Encyclopedia of Life is a global effort to document all 1.9 million named species of animals, plants and other forms of life on Earth and make that information freely accessible.
EOL welcomes image and video contributions from the public. The easiest way to get images up on EOL is through our Encyclopedia of Life Images group at the photo-sharing site Flickr. You can also share short video clips (up to 90 seconds) through EOL's Flickr group. For longer videos, EOL has an Encyclopedia of Life Videos group on Vimeo. You can also share organism images through Wikimedia Commons.
Many invasive species, like Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), are threatening the world's natural resources. The abundance of Garlic Mustard is variable throughout North America and Europe, even for populations that have been established for a long time. Understanding why this variation exists could lead to important new insights into the biology of invasive species and ultimately lead to new and more effective control options
Maybe you wonder if your time would be better spent pulling out Garlic Mustard, rather than measuring it. Control efforts are important, but good scientific research will lead to much more effective control strategies.
The researchers behind the Global Garlic Mustard Field Survey project are integrating survey data with Garlic Mustard eradication efforts to track the effectiveness of different control options in different regions
Through large-scale sampling, scientists can identify areas that differ in the intensity of invasion and try to understand why these differences exist. They can also compare this to variation in the native range. This may be crucial to researching new methods of control, but a large project like this could cost millions of dollars and years of work without help from volunteers.
Project Noah was launched out of New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) in early 2010. "NOAH" is actually an acronym that stands for Networked Organisms And Habitats. The project started off as an experiment to see if the researchers—including founding members Yasser Ansari, Martin Ceperley, Peter Horvath and Bruno Kruse—could build a fun, location-based mobile application to encourage people to reconnect with nature and document local wildlife.
Project Noah, which launched its iPhone app in February of 2010 and has since added an Android app, has the ultimate goal of building an online platform that can be used by citizen scientists to document a wide variety of wildlife—spiders, birds, moose, you name it.
Project Squirrel was originally created by Wendy Jackson and Joel Brown, and has been operating since 1997. During this time, more than 1,000 people have participated, provided observations, and filled out the project's survey. Participants have been able to learn a great deal about these squirrels, at first in the Chicago Metropolitan Region and now throughout the U.S.
Squirrels are worth studying because they are active during the day and everyone has an opinion about them. Additionally, squirrels can be important indicators of local ecology because they are resident in small territories and active year round, they require a range of resources that are also important to many other urban animals, and their populations rise and fall with the same predators and environmental conditions that affect our neighborhood wildlife.
No matter where you live, if there are squirrels in your neighborhood, you are encouraged to join Project Squirrel and become a squirrel monitor. Fox squirrels and grey squirrels are two of the most familiar species of wildlife in many neighborhoods and natural areas. To gain this insight, we must gather data about as many individual squirrels in as many places as possible.
FrogWatch USA is the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' (AZA) flagship citizen science program that allows individuals and families to learn about the wetlands in their communities and help conserve amphibians by reporting the calls of local frogs and toads. Frogs and toads have been vitally important in the field of human medicine and compounds from their skin are currently being tested for anti-cancer and anti-HIV properties. Frogs and toads also play an important role, serving as both prey and predator, in wetland ecosystems and are considered indicators of environmental health.
Many previously abundant frog and toad populations have experienced dramatic population declines both in the United States and around the world and it's essential that scientists understand the scope, geographic scale, and cause of these declines.
FrogWatch USA volunteers learn to identify local frog and toad species by their calls during the breeding season and how to report their findings accurately. By mastering these skills, volunteers gain increased experience and control over asking and answering scientific questions which, in turn, augments science literacy, facilitates conservation action and stewardship, and increases knowledge of amphibians.
For a related citizen science project, see iNaturalist.org's Global Amphibian Blitz
The Shark Observation Network is a partnership of the Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group (GEERG), the Shark Research Institute (SRI Canada) and the BIOAPP. The network supports the collection and organization of data as well as the development and dissemination of information concerning the state of shark and elasmobranch populations and their worldwide distribution. The information serves to support environmental awareness, assessment and policy making, and public participation at a global level. Citizen scientists can help by reporting their own shark observations on a regular basis.
The broadnose sevengill shark, Notorynchus cepedianus, is the only extant member of the genus Notorynchus, in the family Hexanchidae. It is recognizable because of its seven gill slits, while most shark species have five gill slits, with the exception of the members of the order Hexanchiformes. The shark is gray or brownish with spots, and its top jaw has jagged cusped teeth and the bottom comb shaped. This adaptation allows the shark to eat sharks, rays, fish, seals, and carrion. The sharks live in temperate areas up to 135 meters deep and have attacked humans only while in captivity. This shark is ovoviviparous, bearing live young. It grows up to three meters long.
Project organizer Michael Bear is the Science Diving columnist for California Diver Magazine and an AAUS (American Academy of Underwater Sciences) Science Diver with 1000 cold-water dives in California. Bear says that sevengill sharks did not start appearing in the San Diego area until 2008, but that the population has since grown steadily. The Shark Observation Network is looking for citizen scientists and experienced divers to help them study sevengill sharks by contributing data, videos and photos to an online database.
Deadline: Aug 31 2013
Reward: $100,000 USD
The Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative (GBFAI) is launching the 2013 Geoffrey Beene Global NeuroDiscovery Challenge whose
Deadline: Jun 29 2013
Reward: $7,000 USD
The Seeker for this Challenge desires proposals for chemical methods that could rapidly degrade a dilute aqueous solution
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