Citizen Science

There are a lot of smart, educated, thinking people who are not in the tenure track who have a lot to offer the world.
— Jess Richman, uBiome

Citizen scientist occurs when ordinary people like you help to conduct real scientific research.  

To participate in citizen science, you don’t need to have a formal scientific background. Most projects offer (at least some) training to ensure consistency in data collection and accuracy in data analysis. If you have a desire to advance research, or work on a concern about environmental conditions in your community you can participate in projects that will benefit from your energy and dedication!

Citizen science projects allow scientists to gather large samples of data, which is normally the most challenging task of a study. Todays interconnected world provides an opportunity for many people to remotely contribute to a study providing valuable data for researchers to use.

Citizen Science projects cover a wide range of scientific content, everything from aquatic invasive species to native bees, from pollen to stardust, and from urban birds to arctic glaciers. Many citizen science projects have achieved notable outcomes; in recent years, more than 100 articles have been published, in peer reviewed scientific literature that analyze and draw significant outcomes from volunteer collected data!

Citizen science encourages people to take a stake in the world around them. As a result, the hope is that this informed public will play a valuable role in influencing larger decisions about science policy.

Find out more: www.citizensciencecenter.com.


 

Audubon Eaglewatch

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The bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, our national bird, is a conservation success story. Florida is home to one of the largest populations of bald eagles, more than 1,400 pairs make nests & rear their offspring between October through May. Individual pairs of bald eagles often return to the same nesting territory year after year.

Florida’s rapidly changing environment currently finds Bald Eagles nesting successfully in urban areas. This increased exposure to human activity and its resulting pressure on the eagle population prompted the Audubon EagleWatch Program.

 

Audubon EagleWatch seeks information about Bald Eagles, active nest locations and possible disturbances or threats to nesting activities. The program is designed to educate volunteer participants about eagle nesting biology, applicable laws, the identification of nest threats, monitoring techniques and the verification of previously unrecorded active eagle nests.

This data is compiled and used to assist the state’s Mid-Winter Annual Bald Eagle Nesting Survey by documenting both urban and rural eagle nesting activity, successes and failures. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service also utilizes EagleWatch data to enhance their conservation and law enforcement efforts.


Jay Watch

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The Florida Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma coerulescens, is Florida’s only endemic bird, found nowhere else in the world! They only live in scrub oak habitats (which are rapidly disappearing in Florida), as they depend on open patches of sand to hide their acorns in. A single Florida Scrub Jay can cache (hide) anywhere from 6000-8000 acorns in a single year! They hide each one individually, and can remember their location, even if a fire runs through the area!

 

The state’s population of Florida Scrub Jays is estimated to have declined by 90% since the early 1800s. Audubon Florida coordinates the Jay Watch citizen science program statewide. They train and support volunteers to conduct scientific surveys that measure annual nesting success and count the total number of Florida Scrub-Jays at more than 50 sites in 19 counties.

In 2015, 277 volunteers invested over 3,000 hours sharpening their skills in onsite trainings and performing field surveys across the state. The success of the Jay Watch program, and the program’s contributions to the recovery of Florida Scrub-Jays, would not be possible without dedicated citizen scientists.

For More Information Visit:  www.fl.audubon.org/get-involved/jay-watch

 

Florida Gopher Tortoise Watch

Gopher tortoises, Gopherus polyphemus, are moderate-sized, terrestrial tortoises, averaging 9–11 inches in length. The species is identified by its stumpy, elephantine hind feet and flattened, shovel-like forelimbs adapted for digging. The shell is oblong and generally tan, brown, or gray in coloration.  Gopher tortoises can live 40 to 60 years in the wild. Gopher tortoises live in fire-dependent upland habitats that have sparse tree canopy and abundant low growing vegetation. They dig deep burrows for shelter and forage on low-growing plants and can be found in forests, pastures and yards. These burrows are widely used by other species in the ecosystem, making gopher tortoises a keystone species, providing a pivotal role in the community to other native animals. 

Human activities eliminated gopher tortoises from a significant portion of their historic range, and threats still continue. The primary threat to gopher tortoises is loss of habitat. The dry upland areas that provide prime tortoise habitat are targeted by developers that need to avoid wetlands for new housing subdivisions and industrial centers, along with the accompanying shopping centers and services. Conversion of natural areas and forest lands into intensive agriculture has also become a major threat, as well as poor land management practices, like fire suppression or pesticide use. Collisions with vehicles is a major source of injury and death for tortoises who attempt to travel throughout or extend their home range for forage, mates or new burrow sites. 

The FWC needs help in documenting where gopher tortoises live throughout Florida. You can help by downloading and recording your sightings on the Florida Gopher Tortoise smartphone app. With this app you can record the location of gopher tortoises you see in your yard, neighborhood, or anywhere else in Florida. This information will help FWC biologists to better understand where populations of gopher tortoises live. The app also contains gopher tortoise information and a fun quiz to test your knowledge, and you can use it to learn more about this protected native Florida species. 

With your help, FWC will be better able to document where gopher tortoises are living within Florida, and how we can work together to protect them.  

For more information click here, or download the app

 

 

monarch butterfly watch

The monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus, is one of our most easily recognized butterflies and well known for its long migration across North America. Unfortunately, the loss of natural habitat, in particular native milkweeds, has resulted in dwindling monarch populations vulnerable to other pressures, such as disease and a deadly parasite known as Ophryocystis elktroscirrha (OE), which can be passed from infected butterflies to healthy ones.

Monarch Watch is seeking the immediate assistance of hundreds of monarch enthusiast citizen scientists in collecting observations of these beautiful and important butterflies in their area during the spring and fall. This project is an attempt to assemble quantitative data on monarch numbers at critical times during the breeding season. The data from these observations will be used to assess their value in predicting trends in the population.

Click here to learn more and register to participate in this project


For a directory of other Citizen Science Projects currently looking for participants, visit:

www.birds.cornell.edu/citscitoolkit/projects