Our June 25, 2017 program featuring Dr. Emily Minor (UIC Urban Ecologist) focused on the many citizen science projects available. These are projects that include data/observations made by laypeople and can be used for research by scientists.
Citizen science may sound difficult, but it is really as easy as looking out your window and making observations and/or taking pictures and then entering the data into the project’s website or database.
Scientists need data–and a lot of it. Citizen scientists can help to contribute to science’s need for data in a way that is fairly simple and enjoyable. Along the way, we learn a lot and connect with our landscapes in a meaningful way. Dr. Minor calls citizen science Science 2.0, because she anticipates its growing importance.
She shared a few interesting studies that have utilized citizen science. One was about Evening Grosbeaks though Feeder Watch. From these Feeder Watch observations, scientists discovered that Evening Grosbeak populations are declining. Scientists were only able to identify this trend because of the wealth of data citizen citizens contributed over a period of many years.
Another illustrative project was one about the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project. A fascinating result of that study is that it takes about 29 milkweed plants to get one Monarch adult. Again, without citizen science data, scientists may not have been able to make this type of calculation. As you can imagine, knowing that a certain density of milkweed is necessary to produce one adult Monarch is very helpful information when making decisions about restoring habitat.
We’ve listed below the projects we discussed at the meeting. There are so many to choose from and there is one that can fit anyone’s schedule and interest. The ones we have listed are ones you can do almost any time in a place of your choosing. Many of them are great projects to do with children and students.
We made our own project on iNaturalist called West Cook Wild Ones Backyard Observations. If you are looking to get something identified, you can add it to your own account and then add it to our project. We’d love to get a substantial database of identifications in there.
Celebrate Urban Birds http://celebrateurbanbirds.org/
Project FeederWatch http://feederwatch.org/
Firefly watch: https://legacy.mos.org/fireflywatch/
Project BudBurst http://budburst.org/
UIC’s BeeSpotter: https://beespotter.org/
Lost Ladybyg Project: http://www.lostladybug.org/
Great Sunflower Project: http://www.greatsunflower.org/
Goldenrod project: http://www.discoverlife.org/goldenrod/#how
Journey North: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/ There are so many different projects to choose from. Some are more involved than others.
Moth Project: http://www.discoverlife.org/moth/
You can find even more at Chicago Living Corridors, including links to more formal programs, such as Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network, Frog Surveys, Odonata Surveys, etc.