Category Archives: Citizen Science

In the News: Forest biologist discusses bighorn sheep on podcast

A bighorn sheep stands in a field

The Forest Service’s Mark Penninger, forest biologist for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, discusses natural history and conservation of the bighorn sheep on Episode 6 of the
Oregon Chapter of The Wildlife Society’s Northwest Nature Matters podcast.

Called the “koepa” by the Northern Paiute people, the bighorn sheep is an icon of the mountain West; yet complex disease issues have stalled its complete recovery. Mark discusses the history of bighorn conservation, its life history, management, and how sheep conservationists are trying to solve pressing challenges to sheep recovery.  – from the Northwest Nature Matters episode page

Listen to the full episode here: http://nwnaturematters.libsyn.com/the-bighorn

The Northwest Nature Matters podcast is produced by the Oregon Chapter of The Wildlife Society, in partnership with the Oregon Wildlife Foundation.

Recent episodes have featured subject matter experts from state and federal agencies, academia, journalism, and environmental advocacy sectors for long-format conversations about conservation, natural history, and wildlife protection issues across the Pacific Northwest.

  • Episode 4, released last month, discussed the marbled murrelet – an Endangered Species Act -listed species, like the spotted owl, requires old growth forest for nesting habitat.
Northwest Nature Matters logo
The Northwest Nature Matters podcast was launched in 2018 to share long-format conversations with subject matter experts about wildlife and conservation issues affecting the Pacific Northwest region.

Related story: The Wildlife Society’s Oregon Chapter launches “Northwest Nature Matters” podcast


Source: The Wildlife Society seeks to inspire, empower and enable conservation, environmental and wildlife professionals to sustain wildlife populations and habitats through science-based management and conservation. The Oregon Chapter of The Wildlife Society is comprised of approximately 350 members from state, government, tribal, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations statewide.

Teachers, mentors: Apply to celebrate International Day of Forests with United Nations in Rome

The 2019 theme for the International Day of Forests is “Forests and Education” and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations wants the world to know how you educate children and youth about the importance of trees and forests.

From the UN FAO website:

Today, more than half the world’s population lives in cities, and are increasingly disconnected from nature.

it is more essential than ever to bring an understanding and awareness of forests and their benefits into children’s lives at an early age.

We’re inviting teachers and non-teachers alike to send us a short video that shows how you provide children with a foundation to better understand the importance of forests and trees for our planet’s future.

The press release suggests taking video of “a traditional class, a field trip into the forest, an art or music lesson, or even a yoga class.”

Videos should 60 seconds or less, uploaded to YouTube, then submit the link via the entry form at http://www.fao.org/international-day-of-forests/teachers-contest/submission-form/en/.

Videos will be posted on FAO’s website, and the winner will join the staff at FAO headquarters in Rome to help celebrate the International Day of Forests on March 21, 2019.

Deadline for entries is Dec. 15, 2018.

For more information about eligibility, answers to frequently asked questions, and the submission form, visit:

http://www.fao.org/international-day-of-forests/teachers-contest



Source information: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger, achieve food security for all, and to make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. With over 194 member states, FAO works in over 130 countries worldwide.

‘Wild Spotter’ pilot seeks citizen scientists to track invasive species

Two forest service employees speak with women at the corner of a viewing platform

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Aug. 14, 2018 – Calling all citizen scientists! Download the free Wild Spotter mobile app and help the USDA Forest Service identify, map, and report invasive species found in your favorite wild places, including the Pacific Northwest’s Siuslaw National Forest and Wallowa-Whitman National Forest!

Through a collaboration with more than 20 partners, the University of Georgia – Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, and the organization Wildlife Forever, are working with 12 National Forests and Grasslands across the United States as part of a pilot program to gather important data on invasive species and how they are impacting wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers, and other natural areas.

red-pink wildflowers dot foliage at the end of a lake, with evergreens along the far shore.

Wildflowers dot the edge of Red Mountain Lake on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest July 2, 2007. USDA Forest Service photo by C. Christensen.

The Wild Spotter citizen science program provides tools to help locate, quantify, map, and report invasive species infestations in a simple and effective manner, while raising public awareness about invasive species and promoting collaborations across the landscape.

“We are happy to be part of the Wild Spotter program and to offer the public a way to enjoy their national forest while helping us gather information on the locations of invasive species,” Angela Elam, Siuslaw National Forest forest supervisor, said.

There are 15 invasive species identified on the Siuslaw National forest in the Wild Spotter app, and 54 identified invasive species for the Wallowa-Whitman forest.

A coastal ridge slopes down to meet the ocean

Cape Perpetua tidal pools and trail, Siuslaw National Forest; June 15, 2011. USDA Forest Service photo.

Once a Wild Spotter volunteer identifies and reports a species, the data is verified by experts and then made publicly available through a networked invasive species inventory database hosted by the University of Georgia.

The database will be the first nationwide inventory of invasive species in America’s natural areas.

“Invasive plants, pathogens, and animals can threaten recreational activities, productivity, and ecosystem health. This tool will help the forest to implement better strategies for prevention, control, and eradication,” Elam said.

The Wild Spotter app is available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, and can be used even from locations where a cell phone signal is not available.

For more information, visit www.wildspotter.org.


Source information: Siuslaw National Forest staff

FS awards citizen science funds to pika program

An American pika collects grass and flowers on a field of rocky talus

PORTLAND, Ore. — March 29, 2018 — Cascades Pika Watch is among the first programs awarded grants from the USDA Forest Service’s new CitSci Fund (Citizen Science Competitive Funding Program), the agency announced earlier this month.

The program is a partnership between Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area, Oregon Zoo, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and several researchers to study the population pressures on the Gorge’s pika population. The U.S. Geological Survey is also partner in the research effort.

An American pika sits on a talus slope

An American pika sits on a talus slope, Aug. 12, 2014. U.S. Geological Survey photo by Will Thompson.

The American pika, or Ochotona princeps, looks like a cross between a mouse and a rabbit. Pika live on talus, or loose piles of rocks that collect on steep slopes; the pika found in the gorge are of special interest to scientists because they live at much lower elevations than other pika in the U.S.

In four years, Cascades Pika Watch has trained more than 1,000 volunteers to conduct pika surveys throughout the Cascade range. Many volunteers return to study the same sites every year.

“In the wake of the Eagle Creek Fire, it’s especially important that we collect data on our unique pika population,” Dr. David Shepherdson, Oregon Zoo deputy conservation manager, said.

The 2017 fire burned through the pika study area; citizen scientists will work with the Forest Service to document any changes to the pika population, habitat, and identify factors that played a role in any changes observed.

Data gathered before and after the fire will be especially valuable in helping researchers understand how large disturbances impact the pika, and related species.

“This… grant provides a wonderful opportunity for the public to be involved… (and) hopefully instill a natural resource interest and ethic to other members of their family and friends,” Brett Carre, Wildlife and Fisheries biologist for Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, said.

An American pika peeks out from a rocky talus slope

An American pika peeks out from a rocky talus slope in the northern Cascades mountain range in an Aug. 8, 2017 photo. U.S. Geological Survey photo by Aaron Johnston.

Carre joins the Pika Watch project this year as the Forest Service lead for research funded by the grant.

He said citizen science projects, like the pika project, offer to get members of the public interested in, excited about, and more knowledgeable about how science guides forest planning and natural resources management decisions.

“It’s the best way for a conservation ethic to be perpetuated,” he said. “The way to get people to sustain and preserve natural resources is by getting them involved.”

The Forest Service’s CitSci Fund was established this year, under the provisions of the 2017 Citizen Science Act (Section 402 of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act).

“Citizen science” involves the public in scientific research, and offers unique opportunities to capitalize on the enthusiasm of volunteers, educate the public, and engage citizens in science conducted by federal agencies for the benefit of all Americans.

For example, NASA’s Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 project recruits citizen scientists to help analyze images collected by a radio telescope in search of a hypothesized 9th planet orbiting beyond Neptune in our solar system. In it’s first year, participants did not find any new planets, but have found 17 previously undiscovered brown dwarf stars.

For this first year, the Forest Service’s CitSci Fund received 172 applications for funding from citizen science projects across the country.

Each project is co-led by a Forest Service employee and a partner organization staff member, and designed in a manner that requires volunteers provide meaningful contributions to the scientific process – such as project design, data collection, or conducting experiments.

The agency selected six projects to receive up to $25,000 each in CitSci funds.

In addition to the Cascade Pika Watch award, Rocky Mountain Wild and the Denver Zoo also received funds to study a population of American pika in their alpine ecosystem habitat on the White River National Forest in Colorado.

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American pika:

Citizen Science:

USDA Forest Service — Pacific Northwest region staff report

An American pika collects grass and flowers on a field of rocky talus

An American pika collects grass and flowers to stockpile its winter food supplies in this Aug. 9, 2014 photo by Will Thompson, U.S. Geological Survey