Posts Tagged: Citizen Science
My name is Valentina Evans, and I am a new volunteer at the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center. My partners Benjamin Evans, and Zane Petersen have chosen to volunteer with me at the HREC for our senior project at Ukiah High School. A few weeks ago on the twenty-first of December we volunteered to help two researchers, Paulo who studied at UC Santa Cruz, and Wyath, who is still studying at Humboldt State University, to plant acorns from different ecosystems, and analyze how they will adapt to conditions with more water, less water, more sunlight or a lack of sunlight. This study is part of Dr. Blair McLaughin's study from the Zavaleta Lab at UC Santa Cruz.
We started off by digging holes about 1 foot deep and laying a thin square piece of chicken wire at the bottom of the holes to prevent gophers from entering and eating the acorns. We then took a circular strip of chicken wire and placed it on top of the flattened piece at the bottom. With the second strip of chicken wire standing horizontal, we continued by covering the holes with the same dirt we originally dug out. Now with the metal secured in place, Paulo came around and gently placed the acorns inside of the holes. The hands-on experience was extremely fascinating, not to mention peaceful. The view at the top of the hill was breathtaking, and the weather was just perfect. The entire process was tiring, but having had the opportunity to participate in a lab/research project made the whole experience worth it.
Although the project will not produce any data until the acorns sprout, the idea behind the project is captivating. Paulo and Wyath are studying the growth of oak trees from all sorts of climates, locations, and ecosystems. Some of the acorns are from northern California and others from way down in southern California. They will be monitoring the water levels, and amount of sunlight the oak trees will receive, all in hopes to see how the oak trees will adapt to different changes in their environments. Seeing as how I want to major in Biological Sciences in college, this experience was exceptionally informative for me and has taught me how critical patience, effort and time are in order to successfully accomplish a lab and receive the most accurate facts. I am very grateful to have been able to participate in this ongoing project and am looking forward to continuing to be a part of the younger generation who can benefit from having the Hopland Research and Extension Center available to us, to further our knowledge about the environment.
Citizen science is really picking up steam with the White House honoring 12 “Champions of Change” for their dedication to increasing public engagement in science and science literacy and the recent launching of a new Citizen Science Association. This year the momentum continues and everyone will be able to celebrate the first national Citizen Science Day on April 16, 2016, when the Citizen Science Association and SciStarter will promote and inspire organizations around the country to host events in celebration of public participation in scientific research. A major celebration will be held in conjunction with the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, DC. This will kick off a series of citizen science open houses and activities to be locally sponsored by science centers, museums, libraries, universities and schools, and federal agencies nationwide.
What is “citizen science” exactly? Citizen science involves engaging non-professionals in scientific research. While applied across many disciplines of science, including biochemistry, astronomy, and psychology, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' California Naturalist Program (CalNat) specifically empowers participants and partners to use citizen science to inform natural resource management. To understand and protect natural resources, scientists and decision makers often need information over long time periods and across many locations. Citizen science is one crowd-sourced
The CalNat Program has incorporated citizen science in the training curriculum from the program's inception. One of the program's primary goals is to increase public participation in natural resource conservation and citizen science projects throughout the state. Each partnering organization offering a CalNat certification course must adopt a class citizen science project so that each course participant gains experience in data collection and entry. Course participants are introduced to the interactive, on-line iNaturalist tool, where users can record observations from nature, develop online species lists and journals, meet other naturalists, and contribute to research-grade observations at the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. While some partner organizations already have an active
Together, with the Alliance of Natural Resource Outreach and Service Programs (ANROSP), we anticipate celebrating the first national Citizen Science Day on April 16 with our 16 scheduled spring California Naturalist courses and the 26 other Naturalist programs around the nation.
California Naturalists contribute to a variety of citizen science projects.
"There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew" - Marshall McLuhan.
One of the first institutions to formally use the citizen science approach, Cornell Ornithology Lab, defines citizen science as projects in which volunteers partner with scientists to answer real-world questions. Another term to describe these projects, often used interchangeably, is “public participation in scientific research” (PPSR), which Cornell defines to include citizen science, volunteer monitoring, and other forms of organized research in which members of the public engage in the process of scientific investigations. We live in an increasingly connected world where the potential of citizen science to solve real-world problems is considerable.
The UC California Naturalist Program has incorporated citizen science in the training curriculum from the program's conception. One of the program's primary goals is to increase participation in resource conservation and citizen science projects throughout the state. It is not a leap to imagine how a scientifically informed public might also inform natural resource policy makers. Each partnering organization offering a California Naturalist certification course must adopt a class citizen science project so that each course participant gains experience in data collection and entry. Course participants also get introduced to the interactive, on-line iNaturalist tool, where users can record observations from nature, develop on-line species lists and journals, meet other naturalists, contribute to research-grade observations at the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, and “help scientists save the world!”
While some partner organizations already have an active go-to citizen science project, other partners may decide to choose a project from the California Naturalist Program's public, vetted online database of California citizen science and PPSR projects, the largest of its kind in this state. Additionally, each course participant must complete a service learning Capstone Project prior to certification and projects may focus on citizen science, education and interpretation, conservation and restoration, or program support. The searchable citizen science database is a useful tool to explore the myriad of citizen science opportunities, to get or stay involved in a particular field, and to keep developing new skills.
Another way that the California Naturalist Program contributes to citizen science is by participating in the development of organizations such as the new Citizen Science Association (CSA), a community of practice for the field of public participation in scientific research. CSA actively works to establish a global community of practice for citizen science, advance the field of citizen science through innovation and collaboration, promote the value and impact of citizen science, provide access to tools and resources that further best practice, support communication and professional development services, and foster diversity and inclusion within the field.
At this early stage, membership to the societyseveral ways to communicate on-line with the larger community. In February 2015 the California Naturalist Program will present at the CSA conference in San Jose both as part of a panel discussion on the use of citizen science in Master Naturalist-type programs across the U.S. and as poster presenters. Participants will spend two days building connections, exchanging ideas across a wide spectrum of disciplines and experiences, and shaping the future of citizen science. The predecessor to this conference, and the first of its kind to focus specifically on the field of citizen science, and its scientists, practitioners, educators, data managers and statisticians was held in 2012 in Portland, Ore.
In addition to the use of citizen science for natural resource stewards, non-profits, and science hobbyists, teachers may also use citizen science as a hands-on learning tool to meet changing standards. California's process of adapting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for K-12 schools will create new citizen science opportunities throughout the state. With an emphasis on application and real world experiences, the new standards align perfectly with citizen science. Teachers can involve students in real life science while meeting the goals of NGSS.
For the citizen scientist or organization that is unconvinced the right project for their organization's goals or interests exists, the website citsci.org will assist with creating new citizen science projects. After a simple registration process, the website provides tools for the entire research process including creating new projects, managing project members, building custom data sheets, analyzing collected data, and gathering participant feedback. CitSci.org was developed through the Natural Resources Ecology Lab (NREL) at Colorado State University as an initiative to promote citizen involvement in scientific research. Another useful resource for citizen science project outcome evaluation is Cornell Ornithology Lab's new User's Guide for Evaluating Learning Outcomes from Citizen Science. This guide includes worksheets, templates, evaluation techniques, and tips for assessing project outcomes and creating a unique evaluation plan based on best practices.
Lynn Sosnoskie, assistant project scientist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, is asking for seed samples collected from mature junglerice plants to evaluate for glyphosate resistance, reported Todd Fitchette in Western Farm Press.
Resistance to glyphosate (best know by the brand name Roundup) in junglerice and other weeds is of particular importance to small-acreage, specialty crop farmers due to the limited availability of registered herbicides, the article said. Sosnoskie's study will determine the distribution of glyphosate-resistant junglerice, compare its resistance when grown in various environments, and evaluate alternative control strategies.
Details about collecting and sending the junglerice seed samples to Sosnoskie are found in the Western Farm Press article.
Neil O'Connell, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Tulare County, is asking citrus farmers to complete a brief survey about the impact of the drought on their farming operations, reported Vicky Boyd in The Grower.
The survey, which does not require a name or address, queries farmers about their normal surface water allocation, this year's allocation, groundwater usage plans and irrigation plans.
You don't have to be a citizen to be a "citizen scientist," and you don't have to be a scientist to be a citizen. But "citizen scientist" is a catchy term, all the same. Basically, it's the public engagement in scientific research activities. “Citizen Science is a powerful tool that...
Formica moki, a native ant, frequents Yolo County gardens. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee and a velvety tree ant. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)