Community science refers to research collaborations between scientists and volunteers that expand opportunities for scientific data collection while also providing access to this information to community members. Volunteers follow a protocol and explore the topic, while the data are used to answer research questions.
Community science programs, usually addressing questions that require long-term, large-scale data collection, are a great way for people to contribute to science. AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums have long participated in a range of community science programs, ranging in topics from bird and butterfly surveys, to beach monitoring, to using camera traps to identify which animals are living in local landscapes.
OdonataCentral is designed to make available what we know about the distribution, biogeography, biodiversity, and identification of Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) in the Western Hemisphere.
The original site resides at www.odonatacentral.org. For the history and updates on the site, see Argia 22(4): 2010. If you have any questions or issues using OdonataCentral, please contact the project admin, Dr. John Abbott.
Several of our community science biodiversity projects use iNaturalist, an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature. It’s also a crowdsourced species identification system and an organism occurrence recording tool. You can use it to record your own nature observations, get help with identifications, collaborate with others to collect this kind of information for a common purpose, or access the observational data collected by other iNaturalist users.
To join any of our projects, and help us document the amazing biodiversity of our state all you need to do is create an account at iNaturalist.org, download their free iNaturalist app to your smartphone (Android or iOS), and join our project. You can then start making your own nature observations, upload them to iNaturalist where you can share your discoveries with others, and also let other iNaturalist users help identify what you have seen.
The Museum’s iNaturalist Projects
Some of our iNaturalist projects include the following:
- Biodiversity of Alabama
- Moundville Archaeological Park Biodiversity Survey
- University of Alabama Arboretum Biodiversity Survey
- University of Alabama Campus Biodiversity Survey
If you have any questions or issues using iNaturalist or any of our iNaturalist projects, please contact Dr. John Friel.