Saturday 7 April 2012

Citizen Science

As many readers will remember, I recently attended the Edinburgh Enlightenment Exchange at the Edinburgh International Science Festival. One of the speakers was Chris Lintock of Zooniverse, a citizen science project that uses amateur enthusiasts to classify galaxies. The talk underlined the importance of giving people the right tools to enable them to take part in their chosen citizen science project.

Another citizen science project that is part of Zooniverse, though very different in its focus, is Old Weather. This is a fascinating project that looks at old weather records from Royal Navy ships to put together a picture of past weather patterns. These then give scientists a better understanding of how weather and climate work and hopefully give insight into climate change.

There are lots of citizen science projects out there! It will be no suprise that I'm involved in a number of natural history based citizen science projects:

I record my bird observations on Birdtrack, operated by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) which studies the migratory movements and distribution of all birds in the UK.

I send all my records of wildlife seen in Edinburgh and the Lothians to the Lothian Wildlife Information Centre, who use that information in assessing planning applications as well as in building a general picture of the state of local wildlife. If you're in Scotland you can find out your local wildlife record centre by contact BRISC (Biological Records in Scotland Campaign).

I also send my records of wildlife along the Water of Leith to the Water of Leith Conservation Trust. This information is used to mitigate the effects of developments such as the current flood prevention works.

I'm sure there are many other examples out there! I think citizen science enables people to use their knowledge and skills in a useful way to help research and conservation. So if you have scientific interests, why not get involved with a project!

You may also be interested in my post on my website about information systems for conservation work.

Disclaimer: I was given a press ticket for the Edinburgh Enlightenment Exchange

As ever, text in red contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

1 comment:

Oh said...

Juliet! Happy Spring! very interesting entry this...and I've gone on line (as a result) and found an organization that wants tracking of our backyard activity for submission to their chronicling the wildlife in the area. Synchronicity (sort of)!
As always, inspiring to read CGP!