What is Citizen Science?
Citizen science gives member of the public to get involved with local scientific research. Typically, scientists collaborate with local volunteers to collect and analyze data for a specific project. The goal of citizen science is to increase opportunities for collecting scientific data, as well as giving the general public more access to data and information. This way community members can utilize that data to expand their knowledge and apply it to their local communities. Citizen science projects focus on a variety of topics, such as:
- Water Quality
- And more!
Why Do We Conduct Monitoring?
Monitoring can help evaluate the success of best management practices (BMPs) deigned to solve pollution problems. By conducting monitoring of an ecosystem or a specific species of animal, scientists can collect data over a period of time to observe any significant changes occurring. By collecting data, a database is created to store all of the information over the years so that it can be referenced to in future years.
In reference to water quality, monitoring is done to help understand how our water gets dirty. With this understanding, citizens can make the connection between their behavior and watershed health. Water quality monitoring data can also provide baseline conditions for waters that may otherwise go unmonitored. Observations made by citizen scientists can give local governments the ability to quickly identify and address problem areas in the watershed.
If macroinvertebrates were monitored in a stream over the course of 5 years, scientists and volunteers would be able to reference previous data if they begin to notice a change in population. If they're finding different species of macroinvertebrates than they were in the past, that's an indication that something has changed in that habitat, and is now affecting the species that live within it! Which, in turn, also demonstrates that there's something affecting the water quality of that habitat.
To learn more about water quality monitoring and get involved with programs locally, you can check out the monitoring program with Little Alamance Creek Healthy Streams Collaborative. They currently have 5 water quality sampling sites, and have collected data from each site since 2015.