Citizen Science Day is a national event to highlight incredible discoveries made by volunteers of all ages, and provide opportunities to participate in science while advancing research and monitoring of Acadia’s plants and animals. There are several opportunities right here in Maine.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife launched the Maine Bird Atlas in 2018 to document the birds that call Maine home during the summer and winter months. eBird is the database for collecting Maine Bird Atlas sightings.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Maine Sea Grant coordinate the Signs of the Seasons program, which is helping scientists document the local effects of global climate change. Participants are trained to observe and record the phenology (seasonal changes) of common plants and animals living in their own communities — a citizen science project that fills a gap in regional climate research. Volunteers across New England record the growth of milkweed, the nesting of robins, and more. “The goal is to build a rich, detailed record of the region’s seasonal turns, a resource too costly to build without a network of citizen volunteers,” said Signs of the Seasons coordinator Elisabeth Maxwell.
Citizen scientists can help document biodiversity with iNaturalist, a mobile application and social network created by National Geographic and the California Academy of Sciences to catalog and track the biodiversity of the world. “Participants take photos of plants, animals, fungi, etc., or signs of organisms like scat, bones, or feathers, and upload the image along with date and location, providing a record of a species in a place and time,” said Libby Orcutt of Schoodic Institute. With 16,135,181 observations made to date, iNaturalist is helping researchers study biodiversity over time across the globe, including partners in the Downeast Phenology Trail.
Schoodic Institute works with the National Park Service and other partners to provide citizen science opportunities in Acadia National Park, other public lands, backyards, and also regionally, nationally, and internationally. Schoodic Institute was one of the founders of the Citizen Science Association, the host organization for Citizen Science Day. ###