Citizen Science has grown rapidly yet many of us don’t know what it is or how we can become engaged in citizen science activities. Nature Vancouver Director, John Martin, has set up a citizen science advocacy team to provide information and support to those who wish to pursue citizen science projects.
What is citizen science? In its fundamentalist form it is a collaboration between someone who is conducting scientific research and the general public. It is proving to be a valuable contribution made by non-scientists to all areas of science including natural history. Nature Vancouver in fact has already engaged in citizen science projects which you can read about in the past issues of “Discovery”. This team will strive to help those who are not yet familiar with the opportunities that exist to engage with relevant projects and initiatives, general resources to learn more about citizen science, and what tools are often used. Citizen science is open to everyone: no matter where you live, how old you are, your knowledge of science etc. You choose a project that interests you, sign up, and decide how to participate. You get to choose how much effort to contribute, and you get to explore your own areas of interest. For more information, you can contact the advocacy team at: CitizenScience@NatureVancouver.ca
Citizen Science Resources
Following is an extensive list of resources that are available classified under five headings:
- For General information look under What is Citizen Science.
- Then you can see some tools in the Common Tools section. More and more are being used each day. You can explore these separately and decide which ones are easy for you to use and chose your engagement appropriately (or learn a new tool if needed).
- Under Photography section we discuss how to use your camera or smart phone to collect and submit data.
- The remaining two sections, Vancouver Area and Other Websites are meant to showcase opportunities to engage in citizen science. There is quite the range of topics and while some are relatively short durations, some are open indefinitely which gives you a lot of latitude to join. Again, this changes constantly and you may start to find your own over time. If something interests you, just look into and join. If you do, we would be grateful if you provide feedback on your experiences by contacting us at: CitizenScience@NatureVancouver.ca
Above all, have fun following your passions and interests through citizen science.
1. What is Citizen Science?
There are a number of ways to learn about this topic so just pick your favourite.
- Start with Citizen Science BC and take it from there. Note: we have strived to list entries already below in different areas but there may be new ones since our last search.
- Google Scholar has many articles and here are two for starters. You can use other search strings to find your favourites. a) Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.ca/scholar? b) Google Scholar BC: https://scholar.google.ca/scholar?
- One example of an Open Source article: Decolonizing Digital Citizen Science https://www.mdpi.com/2075-4698/12/2/71/htm
- Ocean Watch – Howe Sound: https://oceanwatch.ca/howesound/wp-content/uploads/sites
We will list easy to read and relatively short texts we (or you let us know about) find. You can find these in many libraries or online such as Amazon.
- “The Field Guide to Citizen Science” by D. Cavalier and Eric B. Kennedy. Published by Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes, 2016.
- “The Rightful Place of Science: Citizen Science” by D. Cavalier, Catherine Hoffman and Caren Cooper. Published by Timber Press Inc. in 2020.
As with online searching you can try many variations in the search box to find citizen science related videos.
- iNaturalist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DS3SfMCS4BQ
- iNaturalist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS_9KpXgPdk
- City Nature Challenge https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcKELrzCR94
- The Awesome Power of Citizen Science: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZwJzB-yMrU
There have been many Ted talks over the years but here are some to start with.
Smaller Media outlets often online have some good stories and provide yet more ideas but there are also great stories in mainstream media to give you a source of inspiration.
- “The Narwhal”: https://thenarwhal.ca/bc-skeena-watershed-citizen-scientists/
- “Planetizen”: https://www.planetizen.com/blogs/107858-6-examples-citizen-science-work
- CBC News: https://www.cbc.ca/news/science/5-easy-ways-to-become-a-freelance-scientist-1.2508191
- Science Connected Magazine: https://magazine.scienceconnected.org/
- Times Colonist: https://www.timescolonist.com/bc-news/
- CBC News: https://www.cbc.ca/documentaries/the-nature-of-things/
2. Common Software Tools
Applications for Mobile Devices
Apple and Android based applications available through their stores. These are just suggestions since they appear to be used fairly frequently. You can enter these in the search area of either online store for each platform.
- iNaturalist SEEK
- BC Wildflowers
- Trees of the Pacific North West
Applications for Desktop Devices
Both Apple and Microsoft based computers should have these.
- iNaturalist: https://www.inaturalist.org/
- iNaturalist: https://inaturalist.ca/projects/city-nature-challenge-canada-2022-defi-nature-urbaine
- iNaturalist: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/metro-vancouver-regional-parks-bc
- eBird: https://ebird.org/home
- E-Flora BC: https://ibis.geog.ubc.ca/biodiversity/eflora/
- E-Fauna BC: https://linnet.geog.ubc.ca/biodiversity/efauna/
- E Butterfly: https://www.e-butterfly.org/
Devices and Sensors
Many new smartphone devices like USB based microscopes, echolocation sensors are becoming available for the general public to use. We suggest searching for these or seeing what a project is expecting you to use for data collection. In many cases it will just be the cameras built into our phones.
There can be many ways that data is collected for any project but the most common is photographic data. These need to be tagged with date / time of capture along with location info via latitude and longitude (GPS coordinates) information.
Any type of camera can be used so guidance here varies. If you are new to photography, start with letting the camera control all the settings. Of course your photography will get better the more you take charge and control the camera’s settings, but don’t let this stop you from starting.
Some of the tools mentioned in the Common Tools Section allow you to combine more than 1 photo in an observation so please check the capabilities for what you use.
As an aid, we have added the following guide which we found in the resource section on the iNaturalist BC Parks project website to help guide you on how to approach photography of many living taxa (different types of living things). The primary website page is: https://www.bcinat.com/ At the top select “resources” or use this link: https://www.bcinat.com/resources Scroll down and you will see a link to iNat Photo Guide.
Note: The guidance here is considered general and appropriate in most cases, but some researchers may have other requirements or approaches they will want you to use and that is okay. We encourage you to check and use what your project leader requires.
4. Vancouver Area
- Annual Christmas Bird Count with local naturalist or natural history groups like Nature Vancouver are a great entry.
- Refer to past issues of Nature Vancouver journal “Discovery” for many examples and ideas. https://naturevancouver.ca/publications/
- Check out Nature Vancouver Birding section on this web site for information on monthly bird surveys at UBC. https://naturevancouver.ca/birding/
Stanley Park Nature House
5. Other Web Sites
- Federal: https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/nature-legacy/activities.html
- Federal: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/063.nsf/eng/h_97169.html
- BC South Coast: http://www.sccp.ca/resources/citizen-science
- BC WildResearch: https://wildresearch.ca/about-us/
- Canadian Wildlife Federation: https://cwf-fcf.org/en/explore/inaturalist/cnc/
- Kootenay: https://mountainculturegroup.com/amateur-ours-citizen-science/
- BC Parks Board: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/bcparksblog/2021/05/21/become-a-citizen-scientist-today/
- Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia: https://waterbucket.ca/wscblog/2019/03/12/
- BC Honey Producers’ Association: https://ttp-bchpa.ca/2022-citizen-science-project/
- UBC Geography Dept. https://ibis.geog.ubc.ca/biodiversity/CitizenScienceProjects.html
- Surrey: https://www.surrey.ca/vision-goals/biodiversity-conservation-strategy/citizen-science
- Birds Canada: https://www.birdscanada.org/you-can-help/citizen-science/
- Strait of George Data Center: https://sogdatacentre.ca/people/citizen-science/
- Langley Environmental Partners Society: https://www.leps.bc.ca/stewardship/citizen-science/
- Squamish Environmental Society: https://www.squamishenvironment.ca/programs/citizen-science/citizen-science-projects-sponsored-by-squamish-environment-society/
- BC Wildlife Federation: https://bcwf.bc.ca/citizen-scientists-sought-for-b-c-wildlife-study/
- David Suzuki Foundation – BC Butterfly Search: https://davidsuzuki.org/take-action/volunteer/citizen-science/bimby/
- BC Outer shores: https://outershores.ca/outer-shores-joins-citizen-science-project/
- BC Parks: www.bcinat.com
- SciStarter: https://scistarter.org/ Well over 2000 projects in North America providing many great ideas.
- SciStarter: https://sciencenearme.org/?utm_campaign=SS-UM30&utm_medium=email&utm_source=UM The projects here are closer to home in BC.
- David Suzuki: https://davidsuzuki.org/take-action/volunteer/citizen-science/
- Citizen Science Organisation: https://citizenscience.org/
- Ducks Unlimited: https://www.ducks.ca/stories/conservator/
- Ducks Unlimited – Dragonfly: https://www.ducks.ca/project-dragonfly/?
- NASA Science: https://science.nasa.gov/citizenscience
- IBM: https://www.ibm.com/search?lang=en&cc=us&q=Citizen%20Science
- National Geographic: https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/citizen-science-projects
- National Geographic: https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/citizen-science
- Projects: https://www.experientiallearningdepot.com/experiential-learning-blog/20-citizen-science-projects-for-students-of-all-ages
- Projects: http://www.jamesborrell.com/10-great-citizen-science-projects/
- UK: https://odourobservatory.org/examples-of-citizen-science/
- Earth watch: https://earthwatch.org/research/research-focus-areas?