Field researchers needed: Become a citizen scientist for Project BudBurst by observing plants and reporting growth
Project Budburst is a “citizen science” project similar to Project Feeder Watch sponsored by Cornell Lab of Ornithology or the Great Backyard Bird Count, a joint project of Cornell and Audubon. Managed by the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) and the Chicago Botanic Garden, Project Budburst enlists the help of the public across the United States in a field campaign to monitor select plants as the seasons change. Participants record their plant observations on the timing of plant leafing, flowering, and fruiting. This data is used by scientists in phenological studies to research the response of individual plant species to climate change.
Phenology and Citizen Science from BioScience March 2010 is an easy-to-read article on the importance of citizen involvement in recording large data sets that can be extremely meaningful in phenological studies. Phenology is the study of the timing of the biological events in plants and animals such as flowering, leafing, hibernation, reproduction, and migration. Ecologists and other scientists evaluate the timing of such biological events in relation to changes in season and climate.
Lay-person participation in these “citizen science” programs is made very easy by using the web (check links above). Collecting data for these projects is a way to learn about field research and the scientific process and, more importantly, to make valuable contributions to numerous scientific studies that will provide a better understanding of changes in our environment.
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