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The Wildlife of Your Home Project

The Wildlife of Your Home Project

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).

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Rob Dunn, Associate Biology Professor
  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: North Caroline State University
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Observation
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages
  • TIME COMMITMENT: Variable
  • HOW TO JOIN:

    Sign up for a sampling kit to participate in the project. Once samples are taken they are sent to the researchers, who will then provide information about the bacteria, archaea, protists, pollen and fungus we live with.

See more projects in FreeObservationAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

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.

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