Citizen science, or community science, is the participation of the general public in the collection of data across large areas for scientific research. Examples include collecting water samples, monitoring wildlife, and reporting invasive species through websites, phone apps, or physical data sheets. This data enhances scientific knowledge across the world, which can help inform conservation efforts to improve human and environmental health.
Fortunately, extensive knowledge or time is not required to make meaningful contributions to environmental research. Many people participate in citizen science programs because they’re fun, educational, and provide a sense of purpose – people’s contributions are valued and can have real-world impacts.
Citizen science is so important because it allows for much more information to be gathered than would be feasible by organizations or scientists alone.
Ecologists, biologists, and other 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 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 very labour-intensive and expensive – citizen science is a great way to gather data over a large area in a cost-effective manner. This 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.
See the following link to learn more about the importance of citizen science in Lake Country: Why Citizen Science Matters! (video, 2 min.)
Citizen Science Opportunities
A FOCA Guide to Citizen Science at the Lake, produced by Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Association
Birding in The Land Between Learn about birds found in The Land Between, how to start your birding journey and discover useful links to birding apps, resources, and organizations.
Citizen Science Apps EDDMapS Ontario, iNaturalist, Leafsnap, eBird, Journey North, and Bumble Bee Watch.
Lake Partner Program
Ontario’s volunteer-based, water quality monitoring program. Learn how to take secchi depths and water samples of your lake.
Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-A-Pond Wetland Conservation Programme Become part of Ontario Turtle Tally or Frog Watch Ontario to help monitor turtles and frogs in your area.
Volunteer with The Land Between Learn about the numerous volunteering opportunities from being a Turtle Guardian or Wetland Watcher to being a Phrag Fighter or Snake Supervisor.
Volunteer with the Couchiching Conservancy Check out their website for updates on volunteering opportunities in Citizen Science monitoring.
How to Plan Community BioBlitz Events BioBlitz events occur all across Ontario and involve communities of people heading out into parks and nature reserves to help identify what species are present.
Also watch for Land Between apps such as the Turtle Guardians app, Reptailers app, Blue Lakes Water Quality and Angler app, and more!