Archive for the ‘butterflies’ tag

Love Monarchs? Participate in the Monarch Monitoring Blitz This Week!

By July 31st, 2017 at 9:17 pm | Comment

By Cora Lund Preston, Communication Specialist for Monarch Joint Venture

The Monarch Monitoring Blitz has begun! Grab your hats, sunscreen and clipboards and join fellow citizen scientists for some fresh air and an international monarch monitoring blitz from July 29-August 5th! With enough reports, your information will provide a snapshot that helps scientists understand the range and population size of late summer breeding monarchs across North America.

If you’re already familiar with the monarch monitoring blitz, help us recruit more citizen scientists by spreading the word on FacebookTwitter or by sending an email! Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrate Pollinator Week with buzzing science just for you

By June 13th, 2017 at 10:19 am | Comment

Pollinator Week is on its way!
Celebrate the bees, bugs, bats, birds, and more that help pollinate our plants. National Pollinator Week is June 19-25. Explore the buzzing science below to find a way to contribute to pollinator science this month.  Find more projects and events on SciStarter, to do now or bookmark for later.
Cheers!
The SciStarter Team

Read the rest of this entry »

Citizen science comes to public television this April

By March 24th, 2017 at 10:30 am | Comment

Photo: The Crowd and the Cloud

Photo: The Crowd and the Cloud

This April, The Crowd & The Cloud brings you a 4-part public television series exploring citizen science, crowdsourcing, and mobile technology. You’ll find the SciStarter Project Finder on The Crowd & The Cloud website to help viewers of the show become do-ers of science!  Below we’ve highlighted each episode and related projects to jump start your viewing!

Cheers!
The SciStarter Team

Photo: The Crowd and The Cloud
Even Big Data Starts Small
The crowd, using mobile tech, and the cloud contribute to science that saves lives. In this episode, you’ll hear stories of everyday people contributing data used for emergency management, researching Alzheimers, mapping oils spills, and more.
 
World Broadcast: April 6th at 9pm EST
(replayed at 9pm PST)

Photo: The Crowd and The Cloud
Citizens + Scientists
Citizen scientists track air pollution in Wyoming, test for lead in Philadelphia’s drinking water, fish for data in coldwater trout streams and report environmental crimes in China, using the “Black & Smelly Rivers” app. Hear all these stories and more in Episode 2.
World Broadcast: April 13th at 9pm EST
(replayed at 9pm PST)

Photo: The Crowd and The Cloud
Viral vs Virus
Real-time data helps track environmental triggers for asthma sufferers and citizens confront air pollution and rising asthma rates by collecting real time data. In this episode, explore how maps and apps can combat globalized disease from asthma to Zika.
World Broadcast: April 20th at 9pm EST
(replayed at 9pm PST)

Photo: The Crowd and The Cloud
Citizens4Earth
This episode explores a Year in the Life of Citizen Science. Counting birds with an app, surfers collecting ocean data while they ride the waves, volunteers surveying horseshoe crabs on the Delaware Bay, and butterflies wintering over in California.
World Broadcast: April 27th at 9pm EST
(replayed at 9pm PST)

CROWD & CLOUD plans live tweeting during both WORLD channel feeds (same day, same time to 70+ leading PBS stations) with a live one hour interactive “hangout” at 10pm ET and 10pm Pacific. Other PBS stations will program their broadcasts asynchronously, and Scistarter will have a station finder on our website. All programs will be streaming on the Crowd and Cloud website, and those of PBS stations, after April 1st.

 

UK’s Big Butterfly Count is on!

By July 19th, 2014 at 8:38 am | Comment

Count butterflies to find out about the state of nature.

Interested in butterfly citizen science projects? We’ve got you covered!

Small White (Pieris rapae) butterfly feeding on a marigold flower.

Small White (Pieris rapae) butterfly feeding on a marigold flower.

From next Saturday 19 July until Sunday 10 August 2014, the Big Butterfly Count will take place in the UK. This citizen science project is organized by Butterfly Conservation UK and can boast being the largest butterfly count in the world.

The Big Butterfly Count was born in 2010, as Butterfly Conservation UK was keen to attract a wider audience of “butterfly newbies” to participate in one of their projects. For many years, this organization has been staging multiple projects to observe butterflies in the UK, but participation requires not only a deep knowledge of different butterfly species and understanding of their behavior, but also the commitment to go out and count butterflies on a regular basis.

As explained by Richard Fox, from Butterfly Conservation UK, the team felt the need to develop a project more suited to a one-off observation that could be done as a family or by schools, and didn’t assume any background knowledge about butterflies – in essence, a citizen science project! All participants have to do is go out on a sunny day to count and identify the butterflies they see during 15 minutes, then log their results online or via an app. The project focuses on 21 common species of butterflies and moths, and participants can download an easy to follow identification chart to help them work out the species they’ve spotted.

Since it started, the number of participants has been steadily increasing and over 46,000 people spotted 833,000 butterflies and moths in 2013, representing a four-fold increase compared to the previous year. Last year’s bright and sunny days meant considerably more butterflies were detected than in 2012, when bad weather had a strong negative impact on numbers. The “whites” (large white and small white butterflies) managed to dethrone the “browns” from being the most spotted types of butterflies, but the overall trend for virtually all species was up.

The fact that weather affects butterfly numbers is not surprising; many observations going back many years – not only through the Big Butterfly Count but through other projects as well – allows researchers to analyze tendencies and understand the impact of climate change on wildlife. Results showed that 2013, despite being considerably better than 2012, was merely an average year when compared to data from the 70s and 80s.  Butterflies in the UK have been on a downward path for the last 10 years, both in terms of abundance and distribution across the country.

To assess the long-term impact on butterfly and moth numbers, Butterfly Conservation UK is keen to continue with the Big Butterfly Count, to find out whether butterflies are able to go back to those record-breaking days or if, even with a good summer, numbers will never the same due to their changing habitat. The organization emphasizes the importance of assessing butterfly population, describing it as “taking the pulse of nature”. As these insects are able to respond very quickly to changes in the environment, even a small drop in numbers can be seen as an early warning sign for further biodiversity losses.

While working side-by-side with the general public, Fox found the experience very rewarding, receiving many positive comments from participants so far. Butterfly Conservation UK hopes this project can work as a stepping stone for some of the most dedicated participants, motivating them to progress to more detailed projects and become regular contributors.

So, if you happen to be in the UK during the counting period, why not go for a bit of butterfly spotting? You can do it sitting down in a park (just make sure you don’t count the same butterfly twice!) or going for a walk in the woods, whichever you prefer.

Looking for ways to count butterflies? Check out the SciStarter project finder.

Resources:
Big Butterfly Count 
Butterfly Conservation UK

Image: Zeynel Cebeci, Wikimedia Commons


Dr. Alex Reis is a freelance science writer, with a particular expertise in the field of biology and genetics. She holds a degree and MSc in Animal Science, topped up with a PhD in Embryology. In a ‘previous life’ as a researcher, she worked in the field of cell and molecular biosciences and published various scientific manuscripts including in Nature. Nowadays, however, she spends most of her time reading and writing science articles for several news outlets. Recent work includes articles published in The Munich Eye, Decoded Science, United Academics Magazine, BitesizeBio and Science NOW. After moving around the UK for a while, she now lives in the Highlands of Scotland. When not working, she can be found trying to get friendly with the ‘locals,’ from deer to seals, otters or even sea eagles.

Summer is busy season for butterflies – and citizen scientists!

By July 18th, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Comment 1

Did you know that SciStarter has 14 projects that feature butterflies?

Photo: USFWS

Photo: USFWS

This is a product of the growing citizen science brigade, but also the fact that butterflies offer an accessible and fun way for people of all ages to engage in citizen science. Butterflies themselves are not only beautiful to look at, but they serve as excellent indicators of biological responses to the environment, which is why scientists need your help to count, monitor, and study them.

Summer is an especially great time to try out one of our butterfly projects, as it is breeding season for many species, including the iconic Monarch. Butterflies are everywhere and getting busy!

Because studying butterflies is such a good fit with citizen science, SciStarter features butterfly projects that range in difficulties, study locations, and levels of involvement. There is sure to be a project to fit your needs.

Whether you live in CanadaIllinoisMaineFlorida, or the UK, we have you covered. Our projects range from monitoring monarch butterfly larvae, to raising actual butterflies for long-term observation.

We also have several projects that involve simple observations of butterflies, and can be done anywhere in the nation!

Most recently, we added a project called The Big Butterfly Count. This project is going on right now and continues until August 5th. What makes the Big Butterfly Count unique is that it’s a super easy project for people of all ages. The project requires just fifteen minutes of observation and even provides a printable identification poster!

All you have to do is observe butterflies for fifteen minutes to count the number and kind of species, and then submit your results online. It couldn’t be simpler.

Remember, the project ends soon so get out and start counting today. Who knows, you might even get inspired to fill the rest of your summer with butterflies by exploring one of the many other SciStarter butterfly projects!