Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mapping Nature One State at a Time

The warm day's of June may not seem like Spring...but the beautiful May flowers from the April Showers sure are spring-like.  So we continue "Spring into Citizen Science" with the network of projects powered by the NatureMapping Foundation and it's biological diversity mapping tools.

There are a few differences in this project from previous one's discussed on this OpenScientistBlog.  For one it's not open to everyone around the world, or even the country.  It's only open for projects in thirteen states (see the NatureMapping: Project Map for lists of projects near you).  Which leads to the second difference, that I haven't actually joined this project myself since there are none near me (so sad).

But what NatureMapping does is provide the basic tools for schools, museums, and governments to create their own projects for local citizen scientists to get involved with.  Some areas have created for local schoolchildren to map lizards in their area, or help local farmers understand the wildlife in their area.  In other cases governments have used the tools to map area biodiversity for use in planning and eco-management, as well as for curtailing growth that may encroach on vital habitats.

Getting Started is Easy:
  1. Find a project in your state by using the map at NatureMapping: Project Map. Though not all states are covered there will hopefully be one in your area or at least close by.  There are also projects based in one state but which can still use help from participants in other areas.
  2. Set up your own project at NatureMapping: Participate -- It's up to You. This is specifically designed for citizen scientists who have already engaged on an "Early Inquiry" and basic research level to step it up a notch.  You can join a local BioBlitz or even set up your own.  It's up to you.
  3. Finally, you can analyze the data collected by the various sites across the country.  So even if you can't participate directly you can take advantage of the data and provide your own insights.  Just scan through the constantly changing data sets available for more information on each of these.  I also plan to look at these myself and highlight some good ones for you.
To wrap up on a completely selfish note, I'd love to see some of you look at Option 2 and think of projects in your community that could utilize these tools.  It's simple to do and can be quite rewarding.  And let me know when you do...I'd love to follow it on OpenScientist and show the world what you're working on.

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