Citizen Science at Cedar Creek!

Explore Cedar Creek’s animal communities from the comfort of your own home!
"Eyes on the Wild" is an exciting new project based at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. Late last year, researchers established over a hundred camera traps across the Cedar Creek to take a peek into the “secret lives” of animals and help us understand how Cedar Creek fauna interact with each other and their environment. While the plant and soil communities at Cedar Creek have been extensively studied for decades, we have only just started to explore how animal dynamics interact in the bigger picture to contribute to environments and ecosystems. And to do this, we need your help! We are looking for engaged “citizen scientists” to help us classify our thousands of camera trap images – in your own time, from the comfort of your own home. All that is required is a keen sense of inquiry and love of nature! 

What is citizen science? Can I be a citizen scientist? 
These days, new technological developments have made it easier and faster to collect vast amounts of ecological data. Researchers often struggle to keep up with the flood of information, slowing down their ability to answer important scientific questions. Recently, scientists have started to collaborate with “citizen scientists”- members of the general public who help them analyze their information more quickly and accurately than would otherwise be possible. And the good news is, you don’t need a specialized background, training, or expertise to participate in real, on-going research! Enthusiasm and a willingness to learn are the only requirements. On our new website (coming soon!), step-by-step instructions guide you through the process of classifying camera trap images, which often involves answering simple questions and flagging exciting new discoveries. We rely on the combined contributions of many individual volunteers to produce the most accurate data possible, so even if you’re not right 100% of the time, even your best guesses help us derive highly precise information on Cedar Creek’s animal life. By helping to make these data accessible to researchers, you’ll be making important contributions to our understanding of the natural world!

Researchers need YOUR help!
The image data collected from these camera traps will be used by scientists at Cedar Creek to investigate a whole host of questions about North American fauna: we’ll be looking at wolf recolonization, trophic cascades, assessing the reliability of drones for counting animals, exploring animal community interactions, and more. You can learn more about these research topics by following this blog and checking out our website, where we’ll be keeping you up to date with new developments as we move forward. You can also actively chat with real scientists on our discussion boards – we’re here to answer any of your questions about ecology, animal behavior, and the unique biome at Cedar Creek! We will also be relying on you to make your own scientific discoveries. As you go through the photos we’ve collecting, be sure to #hashtag any strange or unusual images you may come across in the comments section. Historically, many of the most interesting discoveries from camera trapping programs have come from discussion between volunteers and researchers, so be sure to alert us to your interesting findings!

How do I participate?
“Eyes on the Wild” goes live on December 20, 2018! Until then, follow our postings on this blog and  check out our Facebook and Instagram, where we’ll keep you informed about the upcoming release!