In the information and mobile-technology age, it’s easier than ever to immortalize the spectacles that nature presents. Were you aware that when you share your observations of animal, plant and other species you could be contributing to advances in scientific knowledge?
Smartphones are all around us, meaning just about everyone’s walking around with a good camera that does a pretty good job. Which makes it easy to photograph flowers, birds, butterflies – in short, virtually every species you come across. Moreover, it’s possible to program the phone to associate the date, time and place with every picture. From there, you’re just a click away from transforming a simple observation into scientific data.
And scientists need those observations. Given the current context of a worldwide decline in biodiversity, monitoring populations is critical. Whether it’s to help endangered species like the monarch butterfly in Canada or simply to keep an eye on the others, every observation has the potential for advancing knowledge. It’s just a question of submitting it to the right citizen science program.
Citizen science for every taste
No matter what your interests are, the time at your disposal or the area you live in, there’s a program for you. Some examples: for bird observations there’s eBird; if you see a turtle, there’s Carapace; and for the monarch, there’s Mission Monarch. Some programs require the use of a more or less elaborate protocol, while for others a simple photo will do. Most of these programs are available as apps or at least websites that conform to the format of mobile devices, so that observations on the ground can be shared directly on them.
In all cases, your observations are relevant, because they reflect a sense of wonder where nature is concerned. It’s up to you to lend them scientific value by sharing them with the right citizen science program. A little effort can contribute substantially to safeguarding biodiversity!