March 28, 2014

Citizen Science

With spring officially here (haha), it's a good time to talk about Citizen Science! 

What is that, you ask? Citizen Science is defined as "projects in which volunteers partner with scientists to answer real-world questions." I think it's a fun way to contribute to science while learning and engaging more in the natural world around us. If you have kids, it could be a great way to introduce them to potential career paths too.

One of my favorite citizen science programs is e-butterfly: "an international, data driven project dedicated to butterfly biodiversity, conservation, and education." Basically you or I can take photos of butterflies as we see them, upload the photo with the date and location of the sighting and contribute to a very useful database for monitoring and understanding various species. Since I've decided not to be afraid of butterflies anymore, I think this is a good outlet for me. :)

The similar bumble bee watch has just launched this past January. We know many of our pollinator species are in trouble - here is a concrete way to get involved in understanding the problem - and a great way to appreciate the presence of pollinators in your yard or garden.

Both the above mentioned sites have experts verifying the identification of butterflies or bees in your photos, so you get to try your hand at identification without stressing out too much if you get it wrong.

Check out this blog post for links to other citizen science programs, from birds and worms to skating rinks and stars! These programs are becoming more and more important as the government keeps cutting monitoring programs in Canada.

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