An Exciting Time for Citizen Science

Are you an aspiring citizen scientist? All over the world, members of the public contribute to scientific research by reporting species sightings, participating in formal surveys or monitoring efforts and more. You can join these citizen scientists with the help of Ontario Nature’s new Directory of Ontario Citizen Science (DOCS).

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DOCS is an online, searchable tool that can link you with citizen science projects in your area. It can also help groups coordinating citizen science activities to publicize their projects and attract volunteers. DOCS is intended for projects with biological, environmental or conservation goals.

Citizen science has been around for more than 100 years. The Audubon Christmas Bird Count, considered by many to be the first formal citizen science program, began in 1900. Since that time, many more programs have been created.

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Red eft on the forest floor. Photo credit: Dave Wake.

Led by Ontario Nature since 2009, the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas (ORAA) is a citizen science program that tracks the distribution and spatial trends of frogs, toads, turtles, snakes, salamanders and the five-lined skink – the only species of lizard found in the province. The ORAA relies on the public to report sightings of these animals which in turn helps scientists to determine their status and conservation needs. The results are publicly available and often used for scientific publications.

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Participants check salamander cover boards at the Kinghurst Forest Nature Reserve. Photo credit: Lynn Miller.

Other projects available through the ORAA include: Backyard Frog and Salamander monitoring, and well as a new Vernal Pool Mapping project.

You can learn more about the diversity of projects posted on the DOCS by visiting: ontarionature.org/docs. This is an exciting time to be a citizen scientist in Ontario. Consider becoming one today!

This project would not be possible without funding from the Government of Canada through the Habitat Stewardship Program.

Contributed by Emma Horrigan, Conservation Science Coordinator, Ontario Nature

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