Those interested in grasslands and prairies can get involved in their conservation by participating in citizen science activities. Citizen Science is the collection of scientific data by individuals who are not professional scientists. They are prepared for their work as citizen scientists by professional biologists from the land management agency. These projects are on-going and consist of a network of volunteers. Citizen Science networks are very important. The citizen science monitoring programs would not be the success it is without the participation of citizen scientists. Without these dedicated volunteers, too few data would be collected to accomplish research objectives. Much of what has been learned about the monarch butterfly and its migration is the result of citizen science projects. (From http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/Monarch_Butterfly/citizenscience/index.shtml )
Here is a partial list of citizen science activities that could be conducted in grasslands and prairies.
By taking photos of bees and submitting them online, classrooms can join in this scientific study to understand the impact of climate change and other factors on plant-pollinator interactions, geographic distributions, and seasonal abundances. Bee Hunt will build a network of research sites across North America that will collect data on plants, pollinators, and their interactions. Study sites can include schools, parks, nature centers, farms, gardens, and other areas of biological interest.
Participants will follow rigorous protocols that will ensure that they collect, manage, and share very high-quality data. Educationally, Bee Hunt will enable teachers to meet state science standards by doing hands-on science. Bee Hunt will provide data management, analysis, and mapping tools that will enable participants to compare data within and across sites.
BeeSpotter is a partnership between citizen-scientists and the professional science community designed to educate the public about pollinators by engaging them in a data collection effort of importance to the nation. It is a web-based portal at the University of Illinois for learning about honey bees and bumble bees and for contributing data to a nationwide effort to baseline information on population status of these insects.
From the North American Butterfly Association
The North American Butterfly Association has several ways in which you can get involved in monitoring butterflies: getting involved in butterfly counts; posting sightings; and creating butterfly gardens.
From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Record the birds you see. eBird’s goal is to maximize the utility and accessibility of the vast numbers of bird observations made each year by recreational and professional bird watchers. It is amassing one of the largest and fastest growing biodiversity data resources in existence.
GLOBE: A Worldwide Science and Education Program
From the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), with support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Department of State
Students and scientists investigate soils through the collection of data using measurement protocols and using instruments that meet certain specifications in order to ensure that data are comparable. Learning activities aid in the understanding of important scientific concepts, the understanding of data, and data collection methodologies. Data collection of soil temperature, moisture, and physical and chemical properties is invaluable to scientists in many fields: soil scientists use the data to better understand their potential for plant growth; hydrologists use the data to determine potential sedimentation in water bodies; meteorologists and climatologists use soil data in climate prediction models as soils can affect humidity and temperature; biologists use soil data to understand its potential for supporting plant and animal life; and anthropologists study the soil in order to reconstruct the human history of an area.
The Goldenrod Challenge is a fun entry point into learning about nature through photography. The larger educational goal is to provide the means for participants to discover what is known (and unknown) about all the living things that are found exploring schoolyards, neighborhoods, parks, and other outdoor areas. Participants will start personal electronic “life lists” – albums of digital photographs to document and map when and where they see species. These life lists will help you learn about nature and share your experiences.
The scientific goal is to understand the impact of weather and other environmental changes on the distribution, abundance and interactions of species at continental scales. By combining data from participants' personal life lists and filtering them to include only high-quality observations, we will be able to better understand, and ultimately manage, thousands of species around the planet.
Great Sunflower Project
Everyone is welcome to participate in the Great Sunflower Project. By watching and recording the bees at sunflowers in your garden, you can help us understand the challenges that bees are facing. We know very little about bee activity in home and community gardens and their surrounding environments, but we are certain that they are a crucial link in the survival of native habitats and local produce, not to mention our beautiful urban gardens. Our local pollinator populations require our understanding and protection, and to answer that call we need to determine where and when they are at work.
With enough citizen scientists collecting data, we can learn much more, much faster, about the current state of bee activity. All you need is a valid email address. Then, select the level of participation that is right for you.
Students and classrooms can help track the monarch butterfly migration each fall and spring as the butterflies travel to and from Mexico. Report your own observations of migrating butterflies to the migration map.
Lost Ladybug Project
Across North America ladybug species distribution is changing. Over the past 20 years several native ladybugs that were once very common have become extremely rare. During this same time ladybugs from other places have greatly increased both their numbers and range. Some ladybugs are simply found in new places. This is happening very quickly and we don’t know how, or why, or what impact it will have on ladybug diversity or the role that ladybugs play in keeping plant-feeding insect populations low. We're asking you to join us in finding out where all the ladybugs have gone so we can try to prevent more native species from becoming so rare.
Monarch Butterfly: What Is CitizenScience?
This web page from the USDA Forest Service has a list of citizen science projects for monarchs.
Monarch Lab: Research and Publications
Many aspects of monarch butterfly biology and conservation are being explored by scientists, teachers, students, and citizen scientist volunteers. Find more information on research publications by the Monarch Lab and references to publications by other researchers. To understand more about how research data are analyzed, check out our Basic Statistics section.
Publications are separated into categories based on the following topics: Growth and Development, Interactions with Milkweed, Parasites and Natural Enemies, Reproductive Biology, Conservation, Migration, Population Dynamics, Overwintering, Outreach, and General Issues.
Monarch Larva Monitoring Project
From the University of Minnesota
The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) is a citizen science project involving volunteers from across the United States and Canada in monarch research. It was developed by researchers at the University of Minnesota to collect long-term data on larval monarch populations and milkweed habitat. The overarching goal of the project is to better understand how and why monarch populations vary in time and space, with a focus on monarch distribution and abundance during the breeding season in North America. As an MLMP volunteer, your contributions will aid in conserving monarchs and their threatened migratory phenomenon, and advance our understanding of butterfly ecology in general.
There are a number of ways that you can get your classroom involved with Monarch Watch. In addition to rearing Monarchs, Monarch Watch has several ongoing research projects that rely on student-scientist partnerships.
National Phenology Network
The USA National Phenology Network encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to observe and record phenology as a way to discover and explore the nature and pace of our dynamic world. The Network makes phenology data, models, and related information freely available to empower scientists, resource managers, and the public in decision-making and adapting to variable and changing climates and environments.
Passport in Time Volunteers
From the U.S. Forest Service
Passport in Time (PIT) is a volunteer cultural heritage resources program sponsored by the US Forest Service, and which now includes such partners as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), some State Parks and work with Historicorps. PIT volunteers work with professional archaeologists and historians on public lands throughout the U.S. on such diverse activities as archaeological survey and excavation, rock art restoration, archival research, historic structure restoration, oral history gathering, and analysis and curation of artifacts. The professional staff of archaeologista, historians, and preservation specialists will be your hosts, guides, and co-workers.
Join people across the nation are joining as they collect important climate change data on the timing of leafing and flowering of trees and flowers through Project BudBurst! This national citizen science field campaign targets native tree and flower species across the country. By recording the timing of the leafing and flowering of native species each year, scientists can learn about the prevailing climatic characteristics in a region over time. With your help, we are compiling valuable environmental information that can be compared to historical records to illustrate the effects of climate change. Project BudBurst is ideal for teachers and students, families interested in participating in a science project.
Project Monarch Health
From the University of Georgia
Monarch Health is a citizen science project in which volunteers sample wild monarch butterflies to help track the spread of a protozoan parasite across North America. Our mission is to understand host -parasite interactions in monarchs and to enhance awareness of monarch biology and conservation through the coupling of citizens and scientists.