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.
Scientific American reported in December that more than one million bats have been killed by the deadly fungal infection known as white-nose syndrome (WNS) since the condition first turned up in 2006. Bat populations are generally susceptible to decline because of low reproductive rates, and many species congregate at a limited number of locations during critical stages of their natural history cycle (i.e. hibernacula and maternity colonies). Lack of information on basic ecology and trends is one of the greatest limitations to conservation of bat species.
Beaver Creek Reserve Citizen Science Center volunteers assist the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources with their Acoustic Bat Monitoring Program. Bat volunteers borrow AnaBat detection systems, dubbed the "Bat Monitoring Kit," for up to three nights to conduct bat surveys of local parks, neighborhoods, lakes and trails. The AnaBat detector is attached to a GPS-enabled personal digital assistant. The detector picks up the echolocation calls emitted by bats and translates it to a frequency the human ear can hear. Each detection system records information about phenology and species presence. Data is entered into the Wisconsin Bat Monitoring Program database, with the long-term scope of this project to compile information about phenology, species presence, migration timing vs. residence, and trends of the bat species in Wisconsin.
Deadline: Dec 11 2013
Reward: $52,000 USD
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