|American witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana)|
Technology and the rise of the internet have allowed for the expansion of citizen science projects, in which the general public of all ages can participate in collecting data and observations. These studies are not only engaging and informative for the citizen scientists themselves, they are also a valuable way to gather vast amounts of information. Duke Gardens is both an active citizen science partner and a fun location for local citizen science projects.
At Duke Gardens, two nationwide projects are particularly popular. Project BudBurst began in 2007 as a way to monitor plants across the United States. As one of their seven botanic garden partners, Duke Gardens is an excellent place to observe both native and non-native plant species. As part of BudBurst, volunteers go out into the Gardens and carefully observe plants in different phenophases ("an observable stage or phase in the annual life cycle of a plant or animal") throughout the year. Once the data is collected, volunteers then record their observations and submit them to the Project BudBurst website.
|American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)|
Submitting an eBird checklist is another way visitors to Duke Gardens can participate in a citizen science project. It is relatively easy to learn the common bird species, and once a birder becomes comfortable with a few varieties he or she can explore the Gardens and keep track of species seen and the observed number of individuals in each species. Using a computer or the eBird cell phone app, birders can quickly complete a checklist and voila, their data has been recorded!
|Gray catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)|
|Bird viewing shelter. Photo by Orla Swift|
Blogger and photographer Erika Zambello is a graduate student studying Ecosystem Science and Conservation at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.