Category: Citizen science

Why you should kill this colorful bug on sight, officials say

Read the full story from 5Chicago.

The spotted lanternfly might look beautiful, but if you see one in person, officials want you to kill it immediately and then report it.

What misfortune has befallen this one-inch insect with two sets of spotted, banded wings? Turns out the spotted lanternfly is a federally regulated invasive pest, according to Julie Janoski, The Morton Arboretum’s Plant Clinic manager.

With help from citizens, Montreal researchers are tracking the trees in people’s backyards

Read the full story from the CBC.

Environmental scientists have a lot of ground to cover, so they’re calling on a small army of citizens to help.

Smartphone screens effective sensors for soil or water contamination

Read the full story from the University of Cambridge.

The touchscreen technology used in billions of smartphones and tablets could also be used as a powerful sensor, without the need for any modifications.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have demonstrated how a typical touchscreen could be used to identify common ionic contaminants in soil or drinking water by dropping liquid samples on the screen, the first time this has been achieved. The sensitivity of the touchscreen sensor is comparable to typical lab-based equipment, which would make it useful in low-resource settings.

Geocaching while Black: Outdoor pastime reveals racism and bias

Read the full story at NPR.

On a sweltering day earlier this summer, Marcellus Cadd was standing in a trendy neighborhood in downtown Austin.

His phone told him he was 20 feet from an object he was honing in on using GPS coordinates. He walked over to a bank of electrical meters on a building, got down on one knee, and started feeling underneath.

“Holy crap, I found it!” he said as he pulled out a small metallic container. Inside was a plastic bag with a paper log. Cadd signed it with his geocaching handle, “Atreides was here.”

Cadd is one of more than 1.6 million active geocachers in the United States, according to Groundspeak, Inc., which supports the geocaching community and runs one of the main apps geocachers use.

Every day for the past three years, he has taken part in what is essentially a high tech treasure hunt. It’s a volunteer-run game: some people hide the caches, other people find them.

But soon after he started, Cadd, who is Black, read a forum where people were talking about how they were rarely bothered by the police while geocaching.

“And I was thinking, man, I’ve been doing this six months and I’ve been stopped seven times.”..

He writes about encountering racism on the road on his blog, Geocaching While Black. He’s had some harrowing encounters, such as being called “boy” in Paris, Texas. Or finding a cache hidden inside a flagpole that was flying the Confederate flag.

Fishermen as scientists? A new app gathers climate observations from people on the water

Read the full story at KDLG.

Fishermen have observed changes in ocean ecosystems for years. But, there was no one place to record those observations. This summer, a new mobile app will gather observations from commercial fishermen on the water to bridge the gap between what they see, and what scientists need to know.

What bird is singing? Ask the Merlin Bird ID app for an instant answer

Read the full story from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Hear a bird singing? Today with the free Merlin Bird ID app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, you can make a quantum leap in bird identification just by holding up your phone. As Merlin listens with you it uses AI technology to identify each species like magic, displaying in real time a list and photos of the birds that are singing or calling.

Enthusiastic amateurs advance science as they hunt for exotic mushrooms

Read the full story at NPR.

Let’s face it. If you are a mushroom scientist, you are hopelessly outnumbered.

By one estimate, there are between 2.2 million and 3.8 million species of fungi — and more than 90% of them aren’t cataloged.

But mycologists (as fungus professionals are known) do get a big boost from a surprisingly sophisticated world of amateurs — both those who tromp through the forests observing oddball species, as well as those who have helped build a community that links the amateurs with the pros.

Sometimes the amateurs come up with stunning discoveries.

Making citizen science inclusive will require more than rebranding

Read the full story from North Carolina State University.

Scientists need to focus on tangible efforts to boost equity, diversity and inclusion in citizen science, researchers from North Carolina State University argued in a new perspective.

Published in the journal Science, the perspective is a response to a debate about rebranding “citizen science,” the movement to use crowdsourced data collection, analysis or design in research. Researchers said that while the motivation for rebranding is in response to a real concern, there will be a cost to it, and efforts to make projects more inclusive should go deeper than that. Their recommendations speak to a broader discussion about how to ensure science is responsive to the needs of a diverse audience.

The Atlas of Common Freshwater Macroinvertebrates of Eastern North America

The Atlas, supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, brings together expertise in entomology, learning sciences, software engineering, water quality biomonitoring, and design to create a teaching and learning resource for aquatic insect identification.

Users can search by keyword or browse the collection by insect order, taxa, phyla or identification key. Each genus record includes an overview, characteristics, diagnostic features, and images.

The Training Materials section includes a quick start guide, trainer guides, educational materials, and site images and illustrations.

How birders are boosting their yard lists while they sleep

Read the full story at Audubon.

Using DIY setups and free software, a growing number of community scientists are eavesdropping on nocturnal migrants flying above.

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