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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Citizen Science

Author: Guest Writer/Monday, January 23, 2012/Categories: Uncategorized

Here at Riled Up we celebrate environmental science, new technologies, and engaged explorations. Discovery and inspiration can happen anywhere, to anyone, at any time of life. This is one reason why the growth of citizen science is so exciting.

Citizen science is defined as “the systematic collection and analysis of data, development of new technology, testing of natural phenomena, and the dissemination of these activities on primarily avocational basis.” Individuals or volunteer networks, often without specific scientific training, perform research-related tasks including observation, measurement, or computation of natural data and thereby assist the method, results, and growth science. In the past, citizen scientists have been essential for wildlife counts that assisted the National Audubon Society determine the numbers of bird species on their annual migrations.

The roll new observers can play is particularly true now with the arrival of large numbers of Arctic snowy owls. The giant white owls have been appearing from New England to the Pacific Northwest with one even appearing in Hawaii that was sadly shot. The normally tundra inhabitant, the owls have moved south this winter in search of their prey, mice, voles, and other small rodents, after an exceptional population increase during the last breeding season in the Far North. We covered their recent visit here. 

Now, Cornell University has initiated an exciting venture designated, eBird, so that anyone can work directly with university scientists, provide input to various avian projects, obtain information on new sightings, and generally participate in bird research. You might even become designated: eBirder of the Month. eBird provides location suggestions where citizen scientists might go birding to make the biggest impact where little species data exists. With data input from eBird members, new bird maps are being created that visualize species densities down to the county level.


National eBird checklist

(credit: Cornell University)

So pull out the binoculars, put on warm cloths, join other eBird’ers, and help environmental science in action. You might even spot a snowy owl.



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