As a followup to the Science You Can Do at Home panel at Phoenix Fan Fest, here are some resources for citizen science.
First, a definition:
Citizen science (also known as crowd science, crowd-sourced science, civic science, or networked science) is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur or nonprofessional scientists.
Southwest Monarch Study
“The Southwest Monarch Study is researching the migration and breeding patterns of monarch butterflies in Arizona and the SouthWestern United States. We tag Monarch Butterflies during their Fall migration from August through November.” See upcoming event here.
Arizona Game & Fish Department
The AZGFD relies on citizen science volunteers to help it gather data on Arizona Wildlife. Among the projects you can join are:
Arizona Bald Eagle Nestwatch Program
“Beginning in February, nestwatchers are stationed at 10 to 15 breeding areas with the highest recreational pressures. The on-site protection and education provided by nestwatchers has contributed to a high percentage of the bald eagle’s success. In addition to monitoring the breeding attempt, nestwatchers can also identify individuals in life-threatening situations, making possible a rescue effort by agency biologists.”
Aubrey Valley (Black-footed Ferret) Spotlighting
“Spotlighting allows the population of black-footed ferrets to be monitored. It involves the use of high-powered lights to locate and identify black-footed ferrets. The animal’s emerald green eye shine is reflected by the spotlight at night. Volunteers need to be able to stay attentive from sunset to sunrise while spotlighting for black-footed ferrets; must be able to carry up to 30 pounds while backpack spotlighting for two-hour durations; should know how to use or learn how to use a GPS unit and navigate in the dark.”
Ornate Box Turtle Watch
The Arizona Game and Fish Department is asking for your help in monitoring box turtle populations by collecting simple location and weather data for any box turtle you encounter in Cochise County, and parts of Graham, Gila, Pima, Pinal, and Santa Cruz counties.
“Field volunteer jobs are rare, but can include excavation, survey, and mapping projects. We can also connect you with the Arizona Site Stewards, a volunteer program to monitor threatened archaeological sites throughout Arizona. Office volunteer jobs are much more numerous, and include library research, general office work, outreach, and fundraising. Because volunteers are an integral part of our research teams, many volunteer positions require that you are able to commit to working for a specific, scheduled amount of time.”
“The Southwest Paleontological Society (SPS) consists of an active group of people who enjoy learning about or teaching the science of paleontology. We enjoy collecting fossils for our own private collection, collecting items for research, learning about the significance of finds, and being in the outdoors. SPS is led by experienced paleontologists who guide its members in the skill and knowledge required in the process of collecting and preparing delicate fossil specimens. SPS supports the programs and the goals of the Arizona Museum of Natural History.”
A BioBlitz is a 24-hour event in which teams of volunteer scientists, families, students, teachers, and other community members work together to find and identify as many species of plants, animals, microbes, fungi, and other organisms as possible. “Saguaro National Park has teamed with the University of Arizona and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to engage our youth in a series of schoolyard bioblitz events, bringing students closer to the biodiversity in their own backyards. Schoolyard bioblitz events will take place throughout the year, and we will track our growing list of species here! But we don’t want to limit observations to students. Any and all are invited to participate.”
eBird offers innovative online tools for birders to keep track of their own lists and contribute their bird sightings for use in science and conservation. eBird is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society.
Each year, 15,000 people count birds at their feeders for Project FeederWatch. With more than 1.5 million checklists submitted since 1987, FeederWatchers have contributed valuable data enabling scientists to monitor changes in the distribution and abundance of birds.
By finding and monitoring bird nests, NestWatch participants help scientists track the breeding success of birds across North America. Participants witness fascinating behaviors of birds at the nest and collect information on the location, habitat, bird species, number of eggs, and number of young.
Celebrate Urban Birds is a bilingual project focused on engaging underserved urban and rural residents in science, environmental education, and community activities related to birds. Participants observe a small, defined bird-watching area for 10 minutes and report on the presence or absence of 16 species of birds.
Begun in 1998, the four-day Great Backyard Bird Count was the first citizen-science program to collect and display bird observation data online on a large scale. Today, the Great Backyard Bird Count is one of the most popular annual events among bird watchers. The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada.
The YardMap Network is an NSF-funded project that builds online communities to investigate the impacts of bird-friendly and carbon-neutral practices in backyards, community gardens, and parks. Participants will locate their yards or parks on a Google maps interface, then document their sustainable practices using simple point n’ click digital tools to create data maps.
Hummingbirds At Home Mobile App is a citizen scientist project to help learn more about hummingbirds and how to protect them.
“Globe at Night is an international citizen-science campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting citizen-scientists to measure & submit their night sky brightness observations. This year citizen scientists from around the world have contributed 12,236 data points. It’s easy to get involved – all you need is computer or smart phone & follow these 5 Simple Steps!”
Arizona Citizen Astronomers
Some Arizona amateur astronomers of note include Robert Gagliano for his discovery of an extrasolar planet in a quadruple star system; Thomas J. Bopp, a manager at a construction materials factory and an amateur astronomer at the time of the Comet Hale-Bopp discovery; and Michael Schwartz, 2013 recipient of the Edgar Wilson Award for several comets named Tenagra.
Mobile Apps for Citizen Science
Project Noah from National Geographic.
Leafsnap from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution.
BudBurst from Chicago Botanic Garden and National Ecological Observatory Network.
iNaturalist from California Academy of Sciences.
NoiseTube a research project started at the Sony Computer Science Lab in Paris and currently maintained by the Software Languages Lab at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.