OLYMPIA, Wash. - Whether you're making a road trip across the state, cooling off in a swimming pool, or just watching the world go by from your front porch, this summer you can add to what we know about wildlife through on-line citizen science reporting projects.
If you're traveling Snoqualmie Pass on Interstate 90, the Washington Department of Transportation wants your help with its "I-90 Wildlife Watch" -- a citizen-based wildlife monitoring project that invites motorists to report wildlife sightings along I-90 in the Snoqualmie Pass region of Washington. If you observe wild animals -- alive or dead -- while traveling that route between North Bend and Easton, you can make an on-line report at http://i90wildlifewatch.org/ , anonymously or with your name. Snoqualmie Pass has been identified as a critical link in the north-south movement of wildlife so the information is needed to help with highway planning to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and enhance the safe passage of both motorists and wildlife in the future.
If you own, use, or manage a swimming pool on a regular basis, you could provide valuable information regarding the use of swimming pools by bats. The Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation wants to learn more because anecdotal reports suggest bats use swimming pools for drinking, perhaps especially in areas where natural water sources are scarce. An on-line survey is available at http://batsandpools.wordpress.com/ through Sept. 15, 2013. Whether you observe bats around your pool or not, your responses are still valuable.
If you're bird-watching at home or elsewhere, you can contribute to some of the longest running and best known on-line citizen science projects about birds, coordinated through Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology.
NestWatch at http://nestwatch.org/ collects information on the species, nest location, habitat, number of eggs, and number of young to help scientists track the breeding success of birds across North America. Launched in 2007 with funding from the National Science Foundation, NestWatch has collected more than 100,000 nesting records. Combined with historic data, this information helps scientists address how birds are affected by large-scale changes such as global climate change, urbanization, and land use.
eBird at http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ is an online tool for birders to keep track of their own lists and contribute their bird sightings for use in science and conservation. Birders, scientists, and conservationists can collect, manage, and store their observations in eBird's globally accessible database-or use graphing, mapping, and analysis tools to better understand patterns of bird occurrence and the environmental and human factors that influence them. This real-time data resource produces millions of observations per year from across the hemisphere. eBird is a joint project with the National Audubon Society.
YardMap Network at http://content.yardmap.org/ is a National Science Foundation-funded project that builds online communities to investigate the impacts of bird-friendly and carbon-neutral practices in backyards, community gardens, and parks. Participants locate their yards or parks on a Google maps interface, then document their sustainable practices, such as adding native plants, putting up bird nest boxes or feeders, installing a solar panel, or biking to work. By providing access to media resources for learning about sustainable practices and enabling people to share their maps and practices with each other, YardMap strives to create online conservation communities engaged in real life sustainable practices. YardMap Network was launched in 2011, in partnership with the National Audubon Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and others.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife also has recently initiated its own citizen science projects on a few state wildlife areas where some commitment to initial training and regular visits are required. You can learn more about them at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/citizen_science.html .
We also are interested in wildlife observation reports on-line, specifically on wolf sightings, mountain goat encounters, detections of elk hoof rot deformations, moose sightings and invasive animal species.