Photo by Gary Bendig (Unsplash)
Citizen science is when research is conducted, wholly or partly, by members of the public, who don’t need to have a science background. Citizen science is sometimes described as “public participation in scientific research”, and can have benefits both ways: advancing scientific knowledge by increasing capacity to undertake research, as well as increasing our own understanding of science.
We are all worried about climate change and biodiversity loss, and taking part in citizen science could be a way to deal with some of those feelings of despair and frustration at not being able to ‘do’ much about things. It offers a chance to take part in something useful which might provide new information on the impact of climate change on habitats and species, or possibly lead to the development of new technologies or ways of alleviating the situation.
Here are some examples of current wildlife and ecology projects which are looking for citizen scientists for help:
Record signs and sightings (or lack of sightings) of mammals in the UK with Mammal mapper https://www.mammal.org.uk/volunteering/mammal-mapper/
Assess the nitrogen status (and pollution levels) in your area by surveying lichen on trees with the Lichen app http://www.apis.ac.uk/lichen-app-monitoring-nitrogen-air-quality-using-lichens
Do a Spider Survey https://srs.britishspiders.org.uk/portal.php
The National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS) is looking for volunteers to help scientists with an annual stock take of the UK’s wild plants and their habitats. The surveys of wildflowers and their habitats will provide evidence of which widespread plants are increasing or declining, as well as indicating the changing state of valued habitats such as grassland, fenland and even road verges.
Pollinator Monitoring Scheme (PoMS) PoMS is the only scheme in the world generating systematic data on the abundance of bees, hoverflies and other flower-visiting insects at a national scale (currently across England, Wales and Scotland). Its two types of survey aim to establish how insect pollinator populations are changing across Great Britain.
Find out more about these and other projects at https://www.ceh.ac.uk/citizen-science.
Also look out for Shropshire and Other local Wildlife Trusts’ programmes of volunteer activities.