Cincinnati Museum Center helping citizen scientists contribute to research

CINCINNATI – Calling all scientists! Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) is seeking citizen scientists to help observe and record data on the plants and wildlife in our community. CMC is rolling out a series of projects on the iNaturalist app to help collect data that can contribute to the work of professional scientists.

Citizen scientists are important contributors to our understanding of the world around us. They help provide data to biologists, botanists and other scientists that can fill gaps in their research and provide valuable perspective. So if you’re looking to contribute to scientific studies or just connect with nature, CMC has the tools to help.

CMC has launched a series of projects on iNaturalist, a citizen science app and website developed by the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic. With the iNaturalist app your phone becomes your logbook, helping you and scientists around the world document observations in your own backyard or in the great outdoors. The app is even helping scientists right here at CMC, providing data on long-term projects to track migratory birds, identify invasive vines choking out native trees and more.

Every two months, CMC will release a new project on the iNaturalist app, each one encouraging observation and exploration of the tristate area. The current project asks citizen scientists to observe plants in the area to determine which are native and which are non-native and what cultivated plants have the possibility to become a wild non-native plant. Beginning in November and running through December, birds are the focus and in January and February, winter observations.

Though the iNaturalist app is open and available to anyone, inclusion in the individual projects requires proper identification of your observations, making it useful for scientists and also a resource for casual explorers looking to identify plants and animals they see on their own journeys. The app even shows where similar specimens have been identified around you, displaying real-time data for your own analysis.

Citizen science projects are also valuable additions to CMC’s ongoing research. To supplement their own research, CMC curators are asking citizen scientists to use the iNaturalist app to document the location, date and species of bird strikes – birds that have died as a result of striking windows, a common phenomenon and growing problem in urban areas. Winter is also a great time to identify invasive tree-killing vines, which stay green while most native plants do not. Identifying and then eradicating these vines can be critical to the health and maintenance of mature trees, which are the habitats of a variety of species. As spring rolls around, identifying crayfish burrows will help CMC better understand the impacts of climate change on our water table and the wildlife that depends on it. As each spring becomes increasingly wet and each summer drier, the success of active crayfish burrows over time may help show that impact on the water table.

Getting started with the iNaturalist app is easy.

Sign up on iNaturalist.org or search your phone’s app store for the iNaturalist app to download directly.

Join CMC projects by searching for CMC Local Wildlife or CMC Plants. Revisit the CMC page bimonthly for new projects.

Get comfortable using the system by watching the Getting Started video or video tutorials.

Have fun exploring your own bit of wilderness and start making observations.

For the youngest explorers, Seek by iNaturalist is a great introduction to scientific observation and recognition.

For more information, visit www.cincymuseum.org

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