What is Citizen Science?
Scientists typically take samples to get an idea of the organisms that are in an area or to monitor concentrations of nutrients and contaminants in the soil and water. Taking these measurements gives them an idea of how natural systems are changing over time and helps to identify problems as well as solutions. However, collecting data can be labour-intensive and expensive. Citizen science, or community science, involves the participation of the general public in the data collection process. In this way, scientists effectively “outsource” data collection to the broader public. The information can then be used to help groups, agencies and even governments effectively manage resources, influence policy decisions, set conservation priorities, and reduce environmental impacts.
With more people participating, data collection becomes less time-intensive on an individual basis, so you don’t need to commit a ton of time to citizen science projects. Additionally, programs offered through organizations like The Land Between (our founding charity) provide all the training you need, so you don’t have to be an expert to get started!
Citizen Science Offered Through the Blue Lakes Program
Merry Macrophytes is an interactive and engaging way to learn about the aquatic plants in your lake known as macrophytes. Macrophytes are easily sampled and monitored, making them ideal species to glean water health information from. You’ll learn about species that indicate good water quality as well as tips and tricks for species identification!
Minnows are an ecologically important species, as they are an important food source for a number of other wildlife and they act as a base for the food web. There are different types of minnows with various tolerances in regard to water health. In Marvelous Minnows, you’ll learn about the minnows that live in your lake and the types that indicate how healthy your lake is.
Bugs in the Mud
Aquatic ecosystems like lakes and rivers are home to countless species of aquatic bugs known as benthic macroinvertebrates. Like minnows and macrophytes, these bugs have various tolerances to water quality, meaning that their sampling can make important conclusions about the health of your lake. They are also an important food source for other wildlife. Bugs in the Mud is an activity to help you in the collection and identification of benthic macroinvertebrates in your very own lake!
Our found charity, The Land Between offers a number of other citizen science programs including turtle, bird, and snake conservation, invasive species monitoring and removal, and more! You can learn more about these additional citizen science opportunities on The Land Between’s citizen science page.