Category: Citizen science


I-Pollinate is a research initiative designed to collect state-wide pollinator data for studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Citizen scientists participate by collecting data on monarch egg and caterpillar abundance, pollinator visitation to ornamental flowers, and state bee demographics.

How smartphones can help detect ecological change

Read the full story from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig.

Mobile apps like Flora Incognita that allow automated identification of wild plants cannot only identify plant species, but also uncover large-scale ecological patterns. This opens up new perspectives for rapid detection of biodiversity changes.

Black Birders Week 2021

Black Birders Week 2021 schedule. Visit for text.

After the global success of its inaugural year, #BlackBirdersWeek returns Sunday, May 30 through Saturday, June 5, 2021. This year’s event will showcase the many unique ways Black people connect in the outdoors. The week’s lineup includes nationwide birding events, live streamed panel discussions, and daily interactive themes.

In partnership with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Collective, US Fish Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Federation, Tucson Audubon Society, and more, #BlackBirdersWeek2021 is taking flight!

Visit the website for more information about the week’s events.

Citizen science is helping tackle stinky cities

Read the full story at Next City.

Marta has lived with a bad smell lingering in her hometown in central Spain, Villanueva del Pardillo, for a long time. Fed up, in 2017 she and her neighbors decided to pursue the issue. “The smell is disgusting,” Marta says, pointing a finger at a local yeast factory.

Originally, she thought of recording the “bad smell days” on a spreadsheet. When this didn’t work out, after some research she found Odour Collect, a crowdsourced map that allows users to enter a geolocalized timestamp of bad smells in their neighborhood.

With smartphones, anyone can help track Brood X — and maybe unlock cicada mysteries

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Quinn-Farber and tens of thousands of others have signed up to take part in an unprecedented crowdsourcing effort in the coming weeks to track the largest emergence of cicadas in the country. Using Cicada Safari, an app developed by researchers at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, their contributions will potentially offer the most comprehensive look at the cicada tsunami — and help scientists better understand how urban development may contribute to cicadas’ decline and why the insects emerge in 13- and 17-year intervals, a strange mating schedule that still puzzles entomologists.

Minnesota Bird Songs

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has developed an easy guide to identifying bird songs. Simply go to the page and click on the image of the bird to hear its song.

All recordings are courtesy of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds.

Bird Finder

This page (currently displaying data for Champaign, IL) shows the probability of a species appearing on a checklist during a given month. The change in probability from the previous month is also shown, to highlight which birds are coming and going. Rows with significant changes (< 0.5x or > 2x) are highlighted in red or green. This is based on historical data from eBird, and does not include the current month.

  • Enter a location to search a different region (works worldwide!).
  • Click on a species to see when and where best to find it.

COVID-19 Pandemic Turns Life-Science Students into “Citizen Scientists”: Data Indicate Multiple Negative Effects of Urbanization on Biota

Schirmel J. (2021). “COVID-19 Pandemic Turns Life-Science Students into “Citizen Scientists”: Data Indicate Multiple Negative Effects of Urbanization on Biota.” Sustainability 13(5), 2992.

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions strongly affect the higher education community and require diverse teaching strategies. We designed a course where we combined online teaching with independently conducted ecological data collections by students using a “citizen science” approach. The aim was to analyze the impact of urbanization on biota by comparing urban and rural grasslands. Seventy-five students successfully conducted the data collections and the results provide evidence for prevailing negative effects of urbanization. Individual numbers of ground-dwelling invertebrates (−25%) and pollinating insects (−33%) were generally lower in urban sites. Moreover, animal and seed predation were reduced in urban grasslands, indicating the potential of urbanization to alter ecosystem functions. Despite the general limitations of online teaching and citizen science approaches, outcomes of this course showed this combination can be a useful teaching strategy, which is why this approach could be used to more actively involve students in scientific research. 

Backyard data in six US states shows that native mason bees are declining

Read the full story in Massive Science.

For 13 years, volunteers across the mid-Atlantic region helped scientists track mason bees.

The Problem with Unpaid Conservation Work

Read the full story from JStor.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it. One million species of plants and animals are currently under threat of extinction, and plenty more could join them due to the impacts of climate change. But the conservation programs that must lead the large-scale global action required to protect even a fraction of these species face constant underfunding. That’s why these organizations depend so heavily on volunteers, who are now an integral part of the conservation movement. But as environmental policy researchers Ans Vercammen, Caroline Park, Robyn Goddard, Joss Lyons-White, and Andrew Knight argue, current volunteer practices may undermine efforts to tackle this biodiversity crisis.

%d bloggers like this: