What species of plants and animals call our preserves home? How are native species of desert flora responding to climate change? What are the effects of habitat loss on biodiversity?
Answering these kinds of questions requires lots of data collected over long periods of time over large swaths of land. How on earth can we get all that science done? Through citizen science!
Citizen science is the engagement of volunteers and scientists in collaborative research to generate new science-based knowledge 1. From discovering new galaxies to monitoring bird migrations to documenting the diversity of species on our planet, citizen scientists make tremendous contributions to science every single day.
The Central Arizona Conservation Alliance believes citizen science is one of the most powerful tools in our conservation toolbox. Not only does citizen science allow the Alliance to collect critical information about our mountain parks and preserves, it links scientists and community members, promotes science literacy in participants, and builds capacity for science-informed policy and management. It’s a win, win, win for the sustainability of our mountain parks and preserves!
1 Phillips, T. B., Ferguson, M., Minarchek, M., Porticella, N., and Bonney, R. 2014. User’s Guide for Evaluating Learning Outcomes in Citizen Science. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology.