Call to all scientists! The Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) is looking for citizen scientists to observe and record data on plants and wildlife in our community. CMC is rolling out a number of projects in the iNaturalist app to collect data that can contribute to the work of professional scientists.
Citizen scientists make an important contribution to our understanding of the world around us. They help provide biologists, botanists and other scientists with data that can fill gaps in their research and offer valuable perspectives. So if you want to contribute to scientific studies or just want to connect with nature, CMC has the tools to help you.
CMC has launched a number of projects on iNaturalist, a citizen science app and website developed by the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic.
With the iNaturalist app, your phone becomes your log book and helps you and scientists around the world to document observations in your own garden or in the great outdoors. The app even helps scientists here at CMC provide data on long-term projects to track migratory birds, identify invasive vines that are choking on native trees, and more.
Every two months, CMC will publish a new project in the iNaturalist app, which encourages observation and exploration of the Tristate area. The current project calls on citizen scientists to observe plants in the area to determine which are native and which are non-native, and which crops have the potential to become a wild non-native plant. Birds are the focus from November to December and winter observations in January and February.
Although the iNaturalist app is open and available to everyone, inclusion in each project requires proper identification of your observations. This makes them useful to scientists, and is also a resource for the casual researcher who wants to identify the plants and animals that they see on their own journeys. The app even shows where similar samples have been identified around you and displays real-time data for your own analysis.
Citizen Science projects are also valuable additions to CMC’s ongoing research. As a complement to their own research, CMC curators are encouraging citizen scientists to use the iNaturalist app to document the location, date, and type of bird strikes – birds killed as a result of window blows, a common phenomenon and growing problem in urban areas Areas died. Winter is also a great time to identify invasive arboreal vines that stay green while most native plants don’t. Identifying and then eradicating these vines can be critical to the health and maintenance of mature trees that are habitats for a wide variety of species. As spring rolls around, crayfish cave identification is helping CMC better understand the effects of climate change on our water table and the wildlife that depend on it. As each spring gets progressively wetter and each summer drier, the success of active crayfish burrows over time can help demonstrate these effects on the water table.
Getting started with the iNaturalist app is easy.
• Log in to iNaturalist.org or search your phone’s app store for the iNaturalist app, which you can download directly.
• Join CMC projects by searching for CMC Local Wildlife or CMC Plants. Visit the CMC bi-monthly page for new projects.
• Familiarize yourself with the system by watching the Getting Started video or video tutorials.
• Have fun exploring your own wilderness and making observations.
For the youngest explorer, Seek by iNaturalist is a great introduction to scientific observation and recognition.
When you need a little inspiration to explore your own backyards, CMC’s latest OMNIMAX® film Backyard Wilderness shows in breathtaking detail the variety of incredible plants and animals that our neighborhoods call home. The groundbreaking cinematography makes Backyard Wilderness a fascinating experience that puts you in touch with deer, coyotes, frogs, ducks, birds, bees and much more. The movie is sure to have you grab your coat, lace up your shoes, and log into your iNaturalist app as you begin to explore the wilderness around you.
Cincinnati Museum Center