Welcome to Cleveland Metroparks Virtual Nature Center citizen science hub!
We’ve collected some of our favorite citizen science projects along with two major sources that offer full access to hundreds upon hundreds of additional citizen science opportunities throughout the world.
One of the world’s most popular nature apps, iNaturalist helps you identify the plants and animals around you. Get connected with a community of over 750,000 scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature! What’s more, by recording and sharing your observations, you’ll create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature. iNaturalist is a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society.
The Globe at Night program is an international citizen-science campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting citizen-scientists to measure their night sky brightness and submit their observations from a computer or smart phone. Light pollution threatens not only our “right to starlight”, but can affect energy consumption, wildlife and health. More than 180,000 measurements have been contributed from people in 180 countries over the last 12 years, making Globe at Night the most successful light pollution awareness campaign to date!
Founded in 2007, Celebrate Urban Birds is a year-round project developed and launched by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Its primary purpose is to reach diverse urban audiences who do not already participate in science or scientific investigation. Another goal is to collect high-quality data from participants that will provide us with valuable knowledge of how different environments will influence the location of birds in urban areas. In the last 10 years, CUBs has partnered with over 12,000 community-based organizations, distributed more than 500,000 educational kits, and awarded dozens of mini-grants. Over 90% of our partner organizations work with underserved audiences. Our participants range in age from preschoolers and kindergartners to seniors, and more than 75% have little or no experience with birds.
FrogWatch USA is AZA's citizen science program and provides individuals, groups, and families opportunities to learn about wetlands in their communities by reporting on the calls of local frogs and toads.
Budburst citizen scientists work together with research scientists, educators, and horticulturists to answer specific, timely, and critical ecological research questions by making careful observations of the timing of plant life cycle events, also called phenophases. These life events differ depending upon the type of plant, but usually include leafing, flowering, and fruiting phases of plants as well as leaf color and senescence. Spring, summer, fall, and winter phases are all valuable. These observations are used to better understand how plant species and ecosystems respond to changes in climate locally, regionally, and nationally.
In this activity, students learn about the major food groups and explore the diet preferences of ants by participating in a real science project. Students will set out prescribed ant food baits, collect the baits, count the ants present at each bait, and share the data with a scientist. The data students collect will contribute to a large database with data from students from all around the world who are doing the same experiment. Scientists use these data to explore regional and global trends in ant food preferences so they can learn about more complex things like the environment and climate change.
Take a look around your home, office, school, or anywhere you are and, whether you see squirrels or not, click on the green button above to submit your observations. We want to know where squirrels are as well as where they aren’t. You can submit as many observations from as many places as you like. It’s most effective to submit at least one observation per site per season but the more observations the better. Anyone of any age can participate. Make it an office game or a classroom project, compare notes with friends in other states, get your family involved—everyone can observe nature.
NASA scientists are very interested in learning how clouds affect our atmosphere. It is the clouds, in part, that affect the overall temperature and energy balance of the Earth. The more we know about clouds, the more we will know about our Earth as a system. And YOU can help by sending NASA your observations! NASA S'COOL has now joined forces with the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program creating a larger community of cloud observers across 120+ countries.
Supported by the National Science Foundation and administered by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, NestWatch measures the success of our nesting birds. After studying the guidelines to ensure that participants do not disturb the nesting process, certified Nest Watchers nationwide monitor when nesting occurs, the number of eggs laid, how many eggs hatch, and how many hatchlings survive. The database is used to study the current condition of breeding bird populations and how they may be changing over time as a result of climate change, habitat degradation and loss, expansion of urban areas, and the introduction of non-native plants and animals.
With support from the Ohio Division of Wildlife, The Ohio Lepidopterists helps butterfly enthusiasts to monitor Ohio’s butterfly populations and to flag long-term down trends before species are gone. Teams of monitors, trained by butterfly experts, look at butterflies weekly and they are the first to notice population changes, new species moving into Ohio and other trends. Just as bird surveys record changing bird populations in response to global warming, butterfly monitoring is equally valuable and is a predictor for other invertebrate species as well.
Bumble Bee Watch is a collaborative effort to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees. This community science project allows for individuals to:
- Upload photos of bumble bees to start a virtual bumble bee collection;
- Identify the bumble bees in your photos and have your identifications verified by experts;
- Help researchers determine the status and conservation needs of bumble bees;
- Help locate rare or endangered populations of bumble bees;
- Learn about bumble bees, their ecology, and ongoing conservation efforts; and
- Connect with other community scientists.
eBird is the world’s largest biodiversity-related citizen science project, with more than 100 million bird sightings contributed each year by eBirders around the world. A collaborative enterprise with hundreds of partner organizations, thousands of regional experts, and hundreds of thousands of users, eBird is managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Interested in MORE?
Check out these resources for hundreds of additional citizen science projects!
Zooniverse gives people of all ages and backgrounds the chance to participate in real research with over 50 active online citizen science projects. Work with 1.6 million registered users around the world to contribute to research projects led by hundreds of researchers.
SciStarter provides a database of more than 3,000 vetted, searchable projects and events. Use the advance search tool to filter for the best location, topic, interest and more.
Habitat Restoration Photo Monitoring (https://www.chronolog.io/project/Cleveland-Metroparks)
If you have a smart phone, we need your help monitoring restoration projects around the Emerald Necklace. We manage over 24,000 acres across Cuyahoga County. As we restore habitat, we need help capturing images of how these sites change, to see if they are functioning as intended. We would love your help taking pictures at these sites where recent restoration work has occurred. In the process, hopefully you will come to appreciate some of these newly restored natural areas and understand their value in reducing down-stream flooding and water quality issues. To help out, all you need is a smartphone.