Citizen science can help prepare for future flooding in Rainy-Lake of the Woods

Read the full story from the International Joint Commission.

Fort Frances, Ontario, and International Falls, Minnesota, were the sites of listening sessions in August by the International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board.

The focus was on major flooding in the spring of 2022 that affected the region for months.

The board’s Water Levels Committee presented a video on the flood event and community members shared views and concerns to help inform a post-flood report being prepared for the board. Meteorologists at the meeting said basin residents can participate by getting involved in snowpack measuring as citizen scientists.

SIU’s 2nd Saluki BioBlitz enlists citizen-scientists to survey wildlife on campus

Read the full story from Southern Illinois University.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the surrounding community are about to find out more about their wildlife “neighbors” as a researcher prepares a second public survey of the flora and fauna populating campus.

Community science draws on the power of the crowd

Read the full story in Nature.

Participatory-science projects bring amateurs and experts together to collect and crunch data, and even design research.

Testing the waters: How groups monitor toxic algae in the absence of state testing

Read the full story at Harvest Public Media.

Blue-green algae appears in lakes all over the Midwest during the summers and can make both people and animals ill. Few states have routine testing programs to check for the toxic algae, but some local and volunteer groups are stepping in to fill that gap.

Where are the venomous snakes? An app created by a Clemson scientist can tell you

Read the full story from Clemson University.

Recent Clemson University Ph.D. graduate Rhett Rautsaw wanted to explore whether the evolutionary theory of character displacement — when two species live in the same area and evolve to avoid competing over resources such as food — extended to pit viper venom.

There was one problem. To study competition, Rautsaw had to know where each pit viper species lived, and there wasn’t a comprehensive source of that information readily available.

Rautsaw created VenomMaps, a database and web application containing updated distribution maps and niche models for all 158 pit viper species living in North, Central and South America. Pit vipers are a group of venomous snakes, including rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouths. While Rautsaw needed the information for his evolutionary biology research, the maps provide vital information for conservation efforts, citizen scientists and medical professionals.

Plastic pollution: Birds all over the world are living in our rubbish

Read the full story from the BBC.

Birds from every continent except Antarctica have been photographed nesting or tangled in our rubbish. Photos were submitted by people from all over the world to an online project called Birds and Debris. The scientists running the project say they see birds ensnared – or nesting – in everything from rope and fishing line to balloon ribbon and a flip-flop. Nearly a quarter of the photographs show birds nesting or entangled in disposable face masks. The focus of the project is on capturing the impact of waste – particularly plastic pollution – on the avian world.

Volunteers studying pollinator plants at Shenandoah County landfill

Read the full story at Northern Virginia Daily.

At the Shenandoah County Landfill on Friday, local educator Hannah Bement was overjoyed to see a monarch butterfly.

“It gives me chills,” she said, watching as the orange-and-black insect fluttered over the plot of native wildflowers to land on a milkweed plant.

Monarchs, which make an approximately 1,000-mile flight each year from Mexico to the United States, rely on milkweed to provide a place for them to lay their eggs and for their caterpillars to have a source of food before they eventually make their flight to Mexico.

Without milkweed, there is no monarch butterfly.

Bement was joined on Friday by three other volunteers from the local nonprofit organization Sustainability Matters to identify and catalog how well the pollinator gardens, maintained through the Making Trash Bloom initiative, are doing.

Undergraduates produce usable data for scientists

Read the full story at Inside Higher Ed.

Roosevelt University undergraduates engaged in a community science project that produced usable data for scientists at Chicago’s Field Museum.

Community scientists — even children — produce usable data for researchers

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Citizen-science projects turn ordinary people into researchers, and in recent years such efforts have abounded, tackling everything from astronomy to weather information contained in 19th-century whaling ship logs.

But how good is the data these projects generate?

study in the journal Research Ideas and Outcomes has an answer: Community scientists do surprisingly well in producing accurate data that, in turn, can further scientific research — even when the participants are young children.

Is your neighborhood’s air polluted? New website tracks air quality across the St. Louis region

Read the full story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

A new website launched Tuesday enables the public to track air quality in St. Louis neighborhoods, thanks to a network of monitors stationed primarily on churches around the region.

The site, called AirWatch St. Louis, provides up-to-the-hour data about current conditions and specific pollutants. Groups behind the project say it’s information “that researchers, residents and community leaders can use to address health problems that have plagued historically disenfranchised neighborhoods for generations,” according to an announcement Tuesday.