No experience in conservation? Check! Zero degrees in biology? Double check. Whether you’re a writer, grocery store clerk or a mathematician, conservation researchers are leaning on average Canadians to help them conduct their research. By using volunteers, scientists can gather more data, on a bigger geographical scale over a longer span of time than they could if they exclusively leaned on the conservation world. It also gives them more time to focus on the data – with more of it at their fingertips they can figure out what’s going on with specific species and sub species, and how these animals are faring in one area compared to another. Would you want to help a conservationist out? Keep reading!
The Canadian Wildlife Federation has different ways that you can get involved with citizen science:
Want to help in person? Join a BioBlitz!
A BioBlitz is a community event that engages the public and gives youth and adults the opportunity to reconnect with nature. Typically, an event will run for 12 to 24 hours with a group of volunteer experts, naturalists and enthusiasts cataloguing the plant and animal species in a specified area. At each official CWF BioBlitz event, we offer giveaways such as magnifying glasses, notepads and more. We also provide an iPad so that BioBlitz results can be logged via iNaturalist, and participants are encouraged to use LeafSnap, a CWF-supplied smartphone application that identifies tree species and uploads their locations to a central server.
A BioBlitz does not provide a complete inventory of a given property. Instead, it provides a general “snap-shot” of the species and biodiversity found in the area. Complete inventories recording all species present in a given area is not possible due to a number of reasons including the sheer number of potential species in a given area, species are only active or observable during certain parts of the years and species experts may be unavailable.
Want to help at home? Use your phone!
Download the Inaturalist App
Do you see interesting wildlife around your home, or when you’re out and about in the wilderness? Have you ever encountered a plant or animal that you couldn’t identify? If you wish to be part of a Canadian community to share your discoveries and questions with, iNaturalist Canada is perfect for you!
CWF has teamed up with the Royal Ontario Museum to provide a place where Canadians can record and share what they see in nature, meet other nature observers, and learn about our wildlife. By participating as a citizen scientist, you can contribute to a growing wealth of knowledge of Canadian species and help conserve our natural world. Using a smartphone, Canadians can take a photo of the observed species along with a GPS coordinate and upload them to the online database. The benefit of the vast online community of knowledgeable people on iNaturalist Canada is that there is always someone to help with identifying your observation. Who knows, your observation may help scientists to learn more about a species’ whereabouts!
Download the Leafsnap App
Leafsnap is a free app developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution. This free mobile app uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves. With help from TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, the Canadian Wildlife Federation was able to contribute the inclusion of Canadian trees in the app.