Citizen science is a great way for anyone to get involved in contributing to scientific research. Citizen scientists come from all walks of life, from those highly trained in science to those who have an interest in science, nature, or maybe a particular kind of plant, animal or habitat. Projects can involve making observations about birds or plants, sampling water quality, or analyzing data online.
A recent citizen science effort was launched to better understand Chicago's wildlife ecology. It's Chicago Wildlife Watch. Now, perhaps you are thinking, how much wildlife is there in Chicago? Perhaps it doesn't have quite the same allure as the African savanna or the tropical rainforest, but there is a lot going on here! In this project, cameras where set up around the city and suburbs, and the photographs are available online for citizen scientists (i.e., anyone who has access to the internet and wants to help out) to classify. Not surprisingly, a lot of the shots don't show any animals, but it's a real treat when you get to an image that has captured Chicago's wildlife.
I'm going to keep looking in hopes of a flying squirrel! That's one species that I've never seen in person, so a camera trap photo might have to do.
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I'm a biology professor at Trinity Christian College. I'll be using this page to share interesting stories related to ecology and conservation at Trinity and in the Chicago area (although I might be tempted to expand my geographic focus upon occasion).