Archive for the ‘California’ tag

Spot a Squirrel and Help Science

By January 19th, 2017 at 3:01 pm | Comment

January 21st is Squirrel Appreciation Day! Celebrate by participating in one of these squirrel-centric projects. It sounds a little nutty, but researchers unnamed (2)rely on your squirrel observations to advance research about these furry friends.  Find more projects on SciStarter to do now, or bookmark your favorites for later!
Cheers!
The SciStarter Team

Photo: USFWS
Project Squirrel
Squirrels are some of the most common forms of backyard wildlife. Wherever you are, you can join the study of wildlife by counting squirrels in your neighborhood and reporting your findings online.

Photo: USFWS
Southern California Squirrel Survey
Squirrels are abundant in Southern California, but some native species are in decline and other introduced species are spreading a little too quickly. Learn what’s happening in your neck of the woods by by posting a photo and location information on this website.

Photo: WA State DFWC
Western Gray Squirrel Project
The western gray squirrel is threatened in Washington state, and biologists need to know more about them to understand what’s happening. Residents in the Methow Valley can conduct squirrel surveys to estimate the size and distribution of the population.

White Squirrel Mapping
Have you ever seen a white squirrel? Throughout the world, squirrels of species that are normally grey or red are sometimes white. Report sightings of white squirrels and add to a global map of their distribution.

Photo: USFWS
SquirrelMapper
In some locations, gray squirrels have evolved to be black! By mapping the locations of black squirrels, you can help biologists understand more about this change and how it benefits the squirrels.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is launching a wildlife camera trap study called North Carolina’s Candid Critters. Find out more here.  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!

Celebrating the citizen in citizen science

By November 2nd, 2016 at 5:57 pm | Comment

Volunteers process birds as part of COASST program. Image credit: COASST

Volunteers process birds as part of COASST program. Image credit: COASST

I believe that citizen science is about citizenship as well as science. By this, I don’t mean citizenship in a specific country, but in a larger community. As a citizen scientist focusing on the natural world, I become a better citizen of that world—the world of tree frogs, say, or hummingbirds or dragonflies. Citizen science makes me a better citizen of a particular place, like the river where I am looking for macroinvertebrates or the mountain range where I document invasive plant species.

Recently, I was pleased to read a paper in the journal Conservation Biology that explores whether participating in citizen science also leads to a more conventional citizenship. The authors test the theory that citizen science is a path to social and political action by taking a close look at the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST), a program that relies on volunteers to monitor beached seabirds from Mendocino, California to Kotzebue, Alaska. Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrate Halloween with SciStarter

By October 27th, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Comment

pumpkinAre you looking for something to make you shudder this Halloween? You can skip the scary movies and the frightening costumes. We’ve got projects that are creepy, slimy, scary, and above all else fun!  Below, we’ve highlighted five spooky projects to help you celebrate Halloween.
Find more with the Scistarter Project Finder.
Cheers!
The SciStarter Team

Read the rest of this entry »

Saving California’s Seals and Sea Lions

By October 11th, 2016 at 10:58 pm | Comment

We tend to think of famine in human terms. But animal populations also experience wide-spread hunger, and the hundreds of emaciated young seals and sea lions stranded on California beaches in the past year were a poignant example.

Fortunately, a large team of citizen scientists at The Marine Mammal Center—an animal hospital and research institute north of San Francisco—were ready for the challenge. Twenty-eight crews of 15-20 people worked day and night shifts to rescue and rehabilitate the starving pups and yearlings. By July, 2016, about 1200 volunteers and 50 staff members had fought to save 380 sea lions, 220 elephant seals, 120 harbor seals, and 20 Guadalupe fur seals.  Read the rest of this entry »

Citizen scientist divers help track the success of artificial reefs.

By May 14th, 2015 at 6:00 am | Comment

: Photographs taken by citizen scientist divers allow the scientific community to see the marine life flourishing on the Yukon. Source Michael Bear.

Once a warship, the HMCS Yukon is now an artificial reef providing much needed sanctuary for local marine life. Source Michael Bear.

 

This is a guest post by Michael Bear Citizen Science Project Director at Ocean Sanctuaries.  In this post, he describes a citizen science led effort to catalog marine life living in and around the HMCS Yukon. In 2000, the Yukon was transformed into an artificial reef as part of San Diego’s  marine conservation effort.

 

In 2000, the City of San Diego in collaboration with the San Diego Oceans Foundation (SDOF), purchased, cleaned and sank a 366 foot-long Canadian warship called the HMCS Yukon to create an artificial reef, a task at which has been spectacularly successful. Sitting at the bottom of the San Diego coast, the Yukon attracts dozens of local marine life species and is becoming a revenue-generating attraction for tourist divers from around the world.

When this project started, both the SDOF and the local scientific community were curious to understand the effects of an artificial reef on local fish populations and surrounding marine life. A joint study was undertaken by SDOF and Dr. Ed Parnell of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and released in 2004.¹ Crucial to the study was data gathered by local citizen science divers to generate a baseline of marine life species on the ship.

This year, Ocean Sanctuaries, San Diego’s first citizen science oriented, ocean non-profit is conducting a follow up study to the pioneering work of Dr. Parnell and colleagues. Established in 2014, Ocean Sanctuaries encourages and supports citizen science projects which empower local divers to gather marine data under scientific mentorship and forward our understanding of the oceans. Ocean Sanctuaries currently has three active citizen science projects. ‘Sharks of California’ and the ‘Sevengill Shark ID Project’ are both shark related. The third project is the follow-up study on the Yukon called the Yukon Marine Life Survey.

The data gathered in this project will be mainly photographic. Local divers will photograph specific areas of the ship in quadrats and with transect lines and the data will to be compared with the same areas examined in the 2004 study.

Artificial reefs are proving to be a successful marine conservation effort. Source Michael Bear.

Photographs taken by citizen scientist divers allow the scientific community to track marine life on the Yukon. Source Michael Bear.

The project plans to use a web-based application for wildlife data management called ‘Wildbook’ for cataloging observations made in the Yukon Marine Life Survey. ‘Wildbook’ was originally designed to identify whale sharks, but will be modified as a multi-species database for use with the Yukon Marine Life Survey.²

Referring to the original Yukon Marine Life Survey of 2004¹, Barbara Lloyd, Founder of Ocean Sanctuaries says, “The Yukon Artificial Reef Monitoring Project (ARMP) was a short-term baseline study of fish transects and photo quadrats. The ARMP project has been gathering data for about a decade now.  We at Ocean Sanctuaries strongly believe that a follow up study to the original baseline study can provide the research and fishing communities with valuable marine life data.  In addition, unlike the original study, we intend to use photographs to ensure verifiable encounter data.  We aim to create a large base of citizen scientists to take the photos and enter the data.  This crowd-sourced data will allow us to collaborate between citizens and researchers.”

The current Yukon Marine Life Survey will span at least five years. Once completed, the data will inform scientists of changes to the marine life on the ship enabling California coastal managers to evaluate the impact of artificial reefs on local marine species.  Take a video tour of the Yukon and learn more about the project at SciStarter.

 

 

References:
1. Ecological Assessment of the HMCS Yukon Artificial Reef
off San Diego, CA, Dr. Ed Parnell, 2004:

http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.dema.org/resource/resmgr/imported/S2R-2005-01-EcologicalAssessment-Yukon.pdf

2. Wildbook: A Web-based Application for Wildlife Data Management

http://www.wildme.org/wildbook/doku.php?id=start