Backyard Scientists Aid Research

Posted on May 26, 2009  Comments (1)

Backyard scientists use Web to catalog species, aid research

When a scientist caught onto her efforts, Jirachareonkul and a friend assembled about 20 volunteers — a group she calls the “Toad NUTS” — to collect data on the endangered Western Leopard Toad. The information they collect is being used in scientific research.

At a time when climate change and urbanization are poised to set off a new wave of extinction, some members of the scientific community are turning toward backyard biologists for the data they need to monitor ecosystems and protect struggling species.

Project BudBurst, out of Boulder, Colorado, aims to collect so much amateur data about plant species that scientists will be able to tell how climate change is altering the seasons in North America.

Technology is amplifying this passion for citizen science, which has been around since scientists started cataloging species. Researchers at several universities are working on iPhone applications and computer programs that could analyze digital photos of plant leaves and automatically identify the plant’s species.

The relationship between formal science and citizen science is similar to that between professional news reporters and bloggers; some scientists worry that the information coming in from nonprofessionals will be inaccurate, said John Musinsky, a senior director at Conservation International.

Great stuff. And you can get involved if you want. Just follow the links or search around the internet to find projects that interest you. These projects can be great ways to get kids involved in science.

Related: The Great Sunflower ProjectMonarch Butterfly Migration

One Response to “Backyard Scientists Aid Research”

  1. Citizen Science: Use Your Smart Phone to Help Scientists » Curious Cat Science Blog
    July 17th, 2012 @ 9:55 am

    “The idea of the project is to identify and monitor bat populations around the world by the ultrasonic echo-location calls they use to navigate and find prey…”

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