Aiding wildlife science can be among summertime activities

Staff reportJuly 7, 2013 

Whether your summer plans include a road trip across the state, sitting around a swimming pool or watching the world from a shaded porch, you can take part in several online citizen science projects.

One example is the I-90 Wildlife Watch, run by the Washington State Department of Transportation. The citizen-based wildlife monitoring project urges motorists to report wildlife sightings along Interstate 90 in the Snoqualmie Pass area. If you observe wild animals – alive or dead – while traveling between North Bend and Easton, you can make an online report at i90wildlifewatch.org, anonymously or with your name.

Snoqualmie Pass has been identified as a critical link in the north-south movement of wildlife, so the information is needed to help with highway planning to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and enhance the safe passage of both motorists and wildlife in the future, said a state Department of Fish and Wildlife news release.

Regular users or owners of swimming pools can provide information regarding the use of pools by bats. The Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation wants to learn more because anecdotal reports suggest bats use swimming pools for drinking, perhaps especially in areas where natural water sources are scarce. An online survey is available at batsandpools.wordpress.com through Sept. 15.

If you’re bird-watching at home or elsewhere during your summer travels, you can contribute to some of the longest running and best known online citizen science projects about birds, coordinated by Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology.

NestWatch at nestwatch.org collects information on the species, nest location, habitat, number of eggs and number of young. This helps scientists track the breeding success of birds across North America. Launched in 2007, NestWatch has collected more than 100,000 nesting records. This information helps scientists address how birds are affected by large-scale changes such as global climate change, urbanization and land use, according to the news release.

EBird at ebird.org/content/ebird is a tool for birders to keep track of their own lists and contribute their bird sightings for science and conservation use. Birders can collect, manage and store their observations in the website’s database. You also can use graphing, mapping and analysis tools to better understand patterns of bird occurrence and the environmental and human factors that influence them.

YardMap Network at content.yardmap.org is a National Science Foundation-funded project that investigates the impacts of bird-friendly and carbon-neutral practices in backyards, community gardens and parks. Participants locate their yards or parks on a Google maps interface, then document their sustainable practices, such as adding native plants, putting up bird nest boxes or feeders, installing a solar panel or biking to work. YardMap Network was launched in 2011, in partnership with the National Audubon Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife also recently started its own citizen science projects on a few state wildlife areas where some commitment to initial training and regular visits are required. You can learn more at wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/citizen_science.html.

i90wildlife watch.org. The organization is asking for motorists’ input on wildlife it sees — dead or alive — as part of its monitoring report.

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