citizen science tagged posts

NASA is asking gamers and citizen scientists to help map the world’s corals

NASA invites video gamers and citizen scientists to embark on virtual ocean research expeditions to help map coral reefs around the world in an effort to better understand these threatened ecosystems. During the past several years, researchers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley have developed new instruments that can look below the ocean surface in more detail than ever before. Using techniques originally developed to look at stars, these “fluid-lensing” cameras use complex calculations to undo the optical distortions created by the water over coral reefs.

NASA has deployed these instruments – mounted on drones or aircraft – on expeditions to Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and elsewhere to collect 3D images of the ocean floor, including corals, algae and...

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Who’s driving the future of conservation? Ordinary people

Citizen science has become something of a buzzword, but it’s nothing new. Before science became professionalised in the 19th century, amateur naturalists were collecting information and helping us understand the natural world. And it wasn’t just country vicars; Mary Anning, the daughter of a poor cabinet-maker, spent decades discovering fossils in the cliffs at Lyme Regis, in Dorset, and advancing human understanding of prehistoric life.

In the UK the RSPB has more than a million members, and a 2009 study found that nearly 50% of UK households feed wild birds. The National Trust has more than 5 million members, and 60,000 active volunteers helping to protect the countryside as well as historic properties...

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Why saving our blue planet may lie in the hands of citizen scientists


Some 95% of the ocean is completely unexplored, unseen by human eyes. That naturally means that there are many marine environments that we don’t know much about, but that we’re still putting at risk from damaging activities such as bottom trawling. Meadows of seagrass – flowering plants that live in shallow, sheltered areas – are a prime example of such a habitat.

Knowing the location and value of environments such as seagrass meadows, which are a nursery for fish, is key if we are to tackle our biodiversity crisis. With 70% of the Earth covered by ocean, exploring it all presents an enormous challenge. Thankfully, seagrass meadows are restricted to the shallow waters (less than 90 metres deep), but finding them still isn’t easy.

From charismatic and endangered species like seahorse, t...

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Divers make possible groundbreaking reef study

diver underwater

As Graham Edgar entered his third decade of field research, he gradually arrived at a realization: “There was never going to be enough financial support to examine the big questions about human impacts on marine life at a scale that would be relevant for management decision-making.”

So he enlisted divers.

Edgar, a professor at the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in his 25th or so year of field research, organized 250 divers into the Reef Life Survey, a global network of volunteers trained to the standards necessary for conducting scientific surveys of ocean life.

A new study based largely on data collected by the Reef Life Survey speaks not only to the possible future of the ocean but to the possible future of marine research.


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