Archive for the ‘Animals’ tag

Wildlife Disease Citizen Science

By February 2nd, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Comment

Photo: USFWS

Photo: USFWS

Wild animals get sick from parasites, fungi, and other causes just like people and pets do, but they don’t usually have doctors to help them get better. Instead, you can help them with citizen science! Below, we highlight five projects that study wildlife diseases. Find more projects on SciStarter to do now, or bookmark your favorites for later!

The SciStarter Team

Photo: USGS
ZomBee Watch
Honey bees across North America are being infected by tiny parasites called Zombie Flies; the sick bees abandon their hives and die. Volunteers can capture honey bees and test them for the presence of the parasite.

Photo: Bethann Merkle
Bee Germs
Many bee species nest in the ground, and often we know very little about the diseases that impact them. If you have ground-nesting bees in your area, you can collect a few and send them to researchers to be tested for diseases.

Photo: NPS
Project Monarch Health
A parasite called OE affects monarchs throughout the United States; the disease causes malformations and even death. Volunteers can help track the abundance of this disease by capturing monarchs, painlessly collecting a sample of their scales, and then releasing them.

Photo: SERC
Chesapeake Bay Parasite Project
If you live in the Chesapeake Bay area, you can help survey for an invasive parasite that is infecting native mud crabs. Volunteers are needed for this summer, so use our new bookmark feature to save the project for later!

Photo: USFWS
OK Amphibian Disease Testing
Students and teachers in Oklahoma are needed to catch frogs, swab them for a fungus called chytrid (potentially lethal to frogs), and then safely release them. Request a monitoring kit now to be prepared for the March-June peak monitoring season.

Want more citizen science? Check out SciStarter’s Project Finder! With 1100+ citizen science projects spanning every field of research, task and age group, there’s something for everyone!

Where did the turtle cross the road?

By August 19th, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Comment

Keep an eye out for turtles crossing roads in Massachusetts.  Photo: Linking Landscapes for Massachusetts Wildlfie

Keep an eye out for turtles crossing roads in Massachusetts. Photo: Linking Landscapes for Massachusetts Wildlfie

A recent bike ride took me past a dead buck lying by the side the road – a testament to the dangers faced by both animals and people as we continue to build out our roadways. A few miles later, after noticing the remains of a couple of unfortunate squirrel-car encounters, I started to wonder whether any scientific or government body keeps track of this kind of thing.

The short answer is yes. Though animal mortality on roadways (a.k.a. roadkill) hasn’t often been the subject of rigorous scientific study, the Linking Landscapes project in Massachusetts aims to do just that by enlisting citizen scientists to document roadkill on the state’s highways. In particular, these researchers need the help of citizen scientists to spot squashed salamanders and turtles, as well as other roadkill in Massachusetts. The goal of Linking Landscapes is to improve Massachusetts roadway safety for both animals and humans, and to collect data that may aid in planning new motorways that will have less impact on animal migrations.

Other scientists use roadkill as a teaching tool. For the past 17 years, high school science teacher Brewster Bartlett (“Dr. Splatt”) has been monitoring roadkill – and encouraging his students to do so as well. His program, Project RoadKill, aims to teach students about the animals found in their community, and to increase awareness about the hazards of motor vehicles with respect to wildlife. Those citizen scientists who want to participate in Project Roadkill can sign up here.

So, for all of you interested in the messier side of biology, keep an eye out for incidents of roadkill and report what you find!