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.
New Jersey Audubon (NJA) is recruiting volunteers for shorebird surveys. Participants must have some prior experience in shorebird identification and be willing to commit three days a month in August, September and October to conducting bird surveys.
These ongoing shorebird surveys, initiated in 2004, have provided current information on migration stopover sites along New Jersey’s Atlantic coast for Red Knots, American Oystercatchers and other shorebirds. These data are raising awareness among state and federal agencies in New Jersey about the cumulative importance of many smaller stopovers and the growing impact from human disturbance. Citizen Science surveys are having a significant positive effect on the conservation of migrant shorebird habitats in New Jersey.
Shorebird citizen scientists are needed for the New Jersey Meadowlands and coastal sites, especially ones in Cape May and Atlantic Counties. Shorebird volunteers are required to survey their site every 10 days (and at least 5 days apart) during southbound (fall) migration: July 15th to October 31st. Training in identification and count methodology will be provided by NJ Audubon during two workshops in late July, one in the NJ Meadowlands (tentatively scheduled for July 23rd) and one in South Jersey (tentatively the week of July 18).
This project is a collaborative effort of New Jersey Audubon Society (NJAS), New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife/Endangered and Nongame Species Program, and Manomet Center for Conservation Science, aimed at assessing status and changes in populations of shorebirds to better manage and conserve stopover areas. The data collected by volunteers will be incorporated into the national database of the Program for Regional and International Shorebird Monitoring (PRISM), whose overall goal is to monitor trends in shorebird populations. In addition, the information will help identify areas important to southbound shorebirds, and define shorebird management goals for New Jersey.
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