Marine Biology students participating in a survey with COASST staff and volunteers encountered the first snowy owl to be found on a COASST beach!
Do you take your dog along with you on your survey? If so, we would love to hear your thoughts on surveying with man’s best friend! Olli sure loves it when his furry buddy helps him to dig up some fun on his surveys!
COASST has been recognized in the citizen science edition of the online journal “Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment”.
Here is what they have to say about us:
Citizen science engages non-professionals in authentic scientific research, ranging from long-standing, large-scale projects like the Breeding Bird Survey to the more personalized research experiences offered by the Earthwatch Institute. The combination of historical data and assembly of a large, dispersed team of observers creates opportunities for ecological research at unprecedented spatial and temporal scales. Many ecologically based citizen-science projects collect important baseline data, which positions them to respond to crises such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Other projects routinely monitor mortality in a particular population or species, helping to identify threats to native species and to people (eg Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team [COASST]). Dispersed data collection and the ability to collect observations and connect with people, in places, and at scales that would otherwise not be possible, render citizen science increasingly important to environmental research.
Today, the internet and geographic information system-(GIS-) enabled web applications allow participants to collect large volumes of location-based ecological data and submit them electronically to centralized databases. The ubiquity of smartphones, the potential for digital photo validation of questionable observations (eg COASST; WebTable 1), and the development of infrastructure for creating simple online data-entry systems (eg www.citsci.org; Table 1) provide added potential for initiating projects quickly, inexpensively, and with stringent criteria to ensure data accuracy. These same web-based tools are democratizing project development, allowing for the creation of data-entry systems for community-based projects that arise out of local, practical issues or needs (eg Extreme Citizen Science; WebTable 1). Although we cannot currently assess the impact of this democratization for ecological research, such empowerment means that resource management decisions, and the data that drive them, are more likely to be in the hands of the people who will be affected by the outcomes.
We know that the life of a COASST volunteer can be a bit more challenging during the winter months so we put together a few tips that might make stormy surveys more enjoyable. We hope they help! Can you think of anything that might make surveying out in the rain and the cold easier?
Hey COASSTers! We had a great tip passed along this week from a fellow volunteer who has found a novel way of organizing her zip ties. Check it out and give it a try!
“We used one large-ish (2 inch diamater) spice container (it had had cinnamon in it, so the smell was a plus!) to contain the entire color spectrum of zip ties we take in the field. With the large, square end of the zip tie facing up in the container, it was easy to see the colors and to grab an individual tie, even wearing nitrile gloves! We covered the color code sheet with a plastic baggie and taped it to the outside of the container for reference purposes. It worked pretty well. Feel free to pass the method along to others!”