|Jacelyn Downey, Moderator
|Monitoring Monarchs: A Success for People, Habitat, and Butterflies
|Karen Oberhauser, Keynote
|Lessons Learned Through an Evaluation of Learning Outcomes and Data Quality in a Community Science Bird Monitoring Project
|Improving Sustainability of Long-Term Amphibian Monitoring: the Value of Collaboration and Community Science for Indicator Species Management
|Western Water Bird Monitoring--a Riverdogging Rant
|Update on Cheatgrass Study after the Mullen Fire
|The Urban Tree Project: Successes and Changes in a Phenological Monitoring Experiment
|Environmental DNA and Community Science
|Data Platforms Workshop
|iNaturalist, Survey123, CitSci,
|Jacelyn Downey, Moderator
|Volunteer Monitoring Assists State Agencies in Detecting Waterborne Pathogens
|The Northern Rocky Mountain Biodiversity Challenge: Uniting People Across an Ecoregion
|The Rosy-Finchers, a Collaborative Community Science Project
|Janice Gardner, Cooper Farr
|Podcasting as Science Education
|Pika Patrol: A Custom Mobile App for Community Monitoring of American Pikas (O. princeps)
|Volunteers vs. Students: Pros and Cons of Different Participant Sources for Community Science Programs
|How Far do the Ripples Extend?
|Discussion and Brainstorming Session for Program Success
|The Crayfish, a Charismatic Sentinel Organism for Community-Based Monitoring
|Habitat Hero Monitoring, a Beta Test
|Communicating Science, A Bridge Built By and For the Community
|Community Engagement with Invasive Species: Killing Two Birds with One Stone
|Increasing Science Engagement in Wyoming Youth
|History, Challenges, and Successes of Climbers for Bat Conservation
|Engaging Community Scientists of all Ages to Find Dragons in Idaho
|Ethan Tolman, Dick Jordan, Kristin Gnojewski
Data that is collected during community science projects needs to be entered and stored somewhere—but where? With so many options out there, how do you find the best data platform for your project? Representatives from iNaturalist, FieldScope, Survey123, Anecdata, and CitSci will talk about the strengths of each of their platforms, and answer any questions that you may have. You will leave this workshop with a better understanding of some of the existing data platforms available to you, so that you can make the best choice for your project!
Title: Volunteers vs. students: Pros and cons of different participant sources for community science programs.
Presenter: Augusto Gabrielli
Watershed Watch has been an active community science program in the Boise, ID area since 2008. This program utilizes community members in collecting water quality data from across the Boise River Watershed. Community members are led by local water quality scientist and professionals who manage the different sites for the event. In 2019, we decided to shift the participant base of the program from volunteers to school groups. This presentation will talk about that shift, what lessons we learned in utilizing school aged students, and the pros and cons of volunteers vs students for community science programs.
Title: Improving sustainability of long-term amphibian monitoring: the value of collaboration and community science for indicator species management
Presenter: Brett Addis
Ecological monitoring programs are difficult to sustain over timescales needed to identify long-term population trends and assess species management needs. Incorporating community scientists into these programs offers a potential solution for overcoming funding shortfalls and resource limitations that often plague monitoring agencies, and also represents an invaluable opportunity to increase public engagement and science literacy. However, concerns over the quality of data collected by volunteers, especially under complex study designs, hampers broader use of community science in ecological monitoring programs. We assessed the reliability and quality of data collected by community scientists participating in the Rocky Mountain Amphibian Project (RMAP), a multi-agency collaborative effort to monitor amphibians in Wyoming and northern Colorado. We found that community scientists are capable surveyors, with detection probabilities of species similar to that of professional biologists. Additionally, community scientists had high follow-through, surveying 75% of adopted survey sites. However, retention of community scientist volunteers across years was low, with 81% of participants only involved for one field season. These results suggest that while community scientists are reliable and capable surveyors, more effort is needed by monitoring program managers to improve volunteer retention in order to increase the sustainability of ecological monitoring programs.
Title: The Urban Tree Project: Successes and Changes in a Phenological Monitoring Experiment
Presenter: Brittany Folk
Phenology is the study of seasonality. For trees, it includes when leaves, seeds, fruits, and blossoms grow and fall. With climate change, the timing of these processes are shifting more and more, affecting both people and wildlife. By gaining a baseline measurement on when these processes happen currently, we can better understand how much they shift in the future. The goal of this project was to see how viable this method of monitoring was and what the quality of data collected would be. We studied a small number of trees (N=33) of ten different species in various locations and elevations around the town of Pocatello, Idaho. We attached fliers to trees with a QR code that led passers-by to a brief online survey about the phenological state of the tree and the tree’s health. In collaboration with the Idaho Museum of Natural History, we created an exhibit about the urban trees of Pocatello to bring awareness to the project.The quality of data collected from leaf out and bloom was consistent, however difficulty recruiting volunteers led to fewer surveys answered than had been anticipated. A future version of this study would benefit from different recruitment methods
Title: Lessons learned through an evaluation of learning outcomes and data quality in a community science bird monitoring project
Presenter: Cooper Farr
Community science has the potential to provide multiple benefits to participants and the professional scientific community, but those benefits can only be realized if participants have the skills, knowledge, and training to collect high-quality data. Using three years of data from a community science bird monitoring project in Salt Lake City, UT, we assessed volunteer learning outcomes and compared species detections, number of birds, and distance measurements between point counts by community scientists and professional biologists. We found significant increases in bird identification for community scientists after going through the training program; community scientists identified an average of 21.5% more bird songs and calls after training. The average number of birds and average detection distances was not significantly different for point counts conducted by community scientists and professional biologists in the same locations, but professional biologists identified an average of 1.48 more species than community scientists. Our findings emphasize the importance of evaluating training programs and data accuracy. We will discuss the lessons we learned from this process, and how they have influenced how we shape our training program and data analysis methods.
Title: How far do the ripples extend?
Presenter: Ellis Hein
Sometimes we may be tempted to think that our involvement in the science community or in community science is not really accomplishing anything. In my presentation I will attempt to trace the web, as much as possible, of how two people influenced me while growing up in the Panhandle of Oklahoma and how that has spread to various places in the world. I have been involved in amateur astronomy. I often gave talks to school children about what can be seen in the night sky in classroom and at the telescope. I have taught in public school and homeschool settings. And I have been involved in banding birds in the Casper, WY area. So where has that influence traveled? There are many lines of influence that I can't trace very far. There are a few that I can follow that lead to surprising places on this continent and elsewhere.
Title: The Northern Rocky Mountain Biodiversity Challenge: Uniting People Across an Ecoregion
Presenter: George Gehrig
The Northern Rocky Mountain Biodiversity Challenge (NRMBC) is a spin-off of the international spring time City Nature Challenge (CNC) bioblitz. The CNC started in 2016 as a competition between San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County. It is an annual international effort for people to find and document plants and wildlife in cities across the globe. It’s a bioblitz-style competition where sites (mostly cities) are in a contest against each other to see who can make the most observations of nature, who can find the most species, and who can engage the most people. Observations are made using the iNaturalist or Seek apps, and saved to the iNaturalist site. The NRMBC is structured the same way.
To encourage phenological and landscape level engagement, Summer and Fall NRMBCs were created in 2022. A total of 106 jurisdictions in Canada and the United States were identified as being (in whole or partially) a part of the Yellowstone to Yukon corridor (Y2Y). iNaturalist projects were created for all of them. The results have been tabulated, and the jurisdictions ranked by per capita number of Observations, Species and Observers.
Title: Volunteer Monitoring Assists State Agencies in Detecting Waterborne Pathogens
Presenter: Hope Braithwaite
Utah Water Watch (UWW) is a water quality education and data collection program that seeks to increase awareness about the importance of water quality and promote stewardship of Utah’s aquatic resources. UWW trains volunteers about watershed science and how to sample and measure water quality in lakes and streams. Volunteers use standardized methods and equipment to measure both qualitative visual assessments and quantitative measurements. Data collected by volunteers is shared in a public database and with local water managers. This data is publicly available on CitSci.org, which was developed through the Natural Resources Ecology Lab (NREL) at Colorado State University as an initiative to promote citizen involvement in scientific research. UWW staff members use the data volunteers collect to track water quality trends and changes over time. We use the data in presentations to state agencies, local communities, and for academic research. Since the program's inception in 2012, we've had our share of flops and successes and are continually learning and adapting. We'll share examples of what has worked well (and not so well) specifically with waterborne pathogen monitoring and provide take-aways participants can apply to their programs. To learn more about Utah Water Watch visit https://extension.usu.edu/utahwaterwatch.
Title: The Rosy-Finchers, a collaborative community science project
Presenters: Janice Gardner and Cooper Farr
Sageland Collaborative and Tracy Aviary are two Utah-based wildlife conservation organizations whose missions highly value community involvement. From this partnership, the Rosy-Finch Project was established in 2019. Black, Brown-capped, and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches are species of conservation concern. These birds have highly nomadic behavior in the winter and breed in hard-to-access alpine habitat in the summer, making them notoriously challenging to study and highly vulnerable to threats such as the changing climate. Luckily, rosy-finches will regularly visit winter bird feeders, providing an opportunity to engage community scientists in rosy-finch data collection and conservation of these species. Each winter, 200 volunteers from across the west are trained to gather sightings of rosy-finches at bird feeders from December through April. Volunteers log information in Survey123 and reporting color-banded birds. The project rapidly grew from a Utah-centric census to a western wide project with volunteers across seven states. We share lessons learned from the successes and challenges we
experienced along the way, including how to create a sense of community from a largely online project spread across a large geographic area.
Title: Engaging Community Scientists of all Ages to Find Dragons in Idaho
Presenters: Ethan Tolman, Dick Jordan, Kristin Gnojewski
Although urban environments are the fastest growing ecosystems on the planet, next to nothing is known about how the most speciose group of aquatic organisms, insects, are adapting to life in urban ecosystems. We engaged junior high students, high school students, and adult volunteers in a project to monitor dragonflies and damselflies throughout urban Ada County (Idaho, USA) using both environmental DNA and iNaturalist observations. Not only has our project resulted in one of the most comprehensive occurrence datasets of an aquatic insect order in an urban ecosystem to date, we were also able to engage three core groups of community scientists in biomonitoring and conservation efforts. Throughout the duration of “finding dragons” we have prioritized easing participation by choosing accessible sites, providing ample training and resources, and consistently reaching out to each group. We have also made it a goal to enrich the experience of our community scientists by providing access to professionals and educational content suitable to their age. Here we discuss how our efforts created passionate community scientists, leading to meaningful scientific results.
Title: Environmental DNA and Community Science
Presenter: Melanie Murphy
Global amphibian decline is current conservation crisis. Monitoring amphibian population is a critical conservation and management need. However, many amphibian species have low detectability in the field and funds for amphibian monitoring are extremely limited. We addressed both these concerns through the integration of community science and environmental DNA (eDNA). The Rocky Mountain Amphibian Program (RMAP) uses multiple independent surveys from agency field technicians and community scientists to monitor amphibian populations. The program has been highly successful; however, detection rates are insufficient for estimating trend for many species. Environmental DNA (eDNA), an innovative technique where species presence can be determined from DNA in the environment, can increase those detection rates. We collaborated with community scientists to collect eDNA to estimate amphibian presence. In summer of 2021, community scientists collected eDNA samples from 80 wetlands in 10 catchments paired with visual surveys. These same wetlands were surveyed by professional field crews. We will compare detection rates and error rates between the two surveyor types, as well as differences in detection rates for visual and eDNA surveys. We will end will best practices for successful eDNA community science projects.
Title: History, Challenges, and Successes of Climbers for Bat Conservation
Presenter: Rob Schorr
When a novel disease, White-nose Syndrome, arrived in North America bat populations declined precipitously with colonies of millions of bats dwindling to thousands or hundreds. This fungal disease attacks bats while they hibernate, interrupting cellular function and starving bats of energy reserves. Tracking the impacts of the disease relied on monitoring overwinter populations, but in western North America there are fewer large winter colonies. To better understand the impacts of WNS, biologist are monitoring summer roosts and investing time to find roosts. A collaboration between recreational climbers, biologists, and land managers, called Climbers for Bat Conservation (CBC), has identified over 200 cliff roosts of bats from Kenya to
Canada. The development and expansion of the collaboration has been slow as collaborators learn how best to engage and communicate with partners. Communication, engagement, and key partnerships have been focal points for the development of CBC. The data that CBC collects is now accessible online via mapping/reporting tools and can be used for bat conservation decisions and to celebrate climbers’ contributions to that effort.
Title: The crayfish, a charismatic sentinel organism for community-based monitoring
Presenter: Tate Libunao
The ubiquitous distribution of environmental mercury throughout the Columbia River Basin has generated interest in conducting a basin-level reconnaissance effort. Given that mercury is often in very low concentrations in water, and that it biomagnifies through the food chain, such a reconnaissance may benefit from the capture of a suitable sentinel organism. In response to this need, we proposed, in 2019, that crayfish, both native and invasive, may be suitable sentinel species. From July 2021 - August 2022, over 750 crayfish of three different species were captured by tribal and non-tribal community members across Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Washington. Post-event, crayfish adductor muscles were harvested and analyzed for total mercury (THg) concentrations (µg/kg). Crayfish fostered community participation because the collection appealed to all audiences and age groups. Community members, in turn, were activated to learn more. Innovations such as the interactive crayfish Hg website (https://crayfish.nkn.uidaho.edu/) and a crayfish “toolbox” are currently under development to reach the widest audience possible. The crayfish demonstrates that a charismatic organism motivates communities to participate in crowdsourced work, while also acquiring valuable environmental monitoring information.
Title: Habitat Hero Monitoring, a beta test
Presenter: Zach Hutchinson
In 2022, Audubon Rockies implemented monitoring protocols in our Habitat Hero gardens in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Initially, this project was meant to include a robust training, followed by participant-driven monitoring. Due to inadequate registrations for the training session, Audubon Rockies staff pivoted to a staff-driven model, while opening monitoring to community scientists for hands-on training, protocol testing, and potential pitfalls. Zach Hutchinson, community science coordinator for Audubon Rockies, will share successes and failures from this new community science project.
Title: Update on Cheatgrass Study after the Mullen Fire
Presenter: Bridget Hardy
In 2020, I gave a 5-minute “Rant” for this conference and that evolved into the Hardy Family Community Science Excellence Fund with the UW’s Biodiversity Institute. I would love to speak for 1.5 minutes to update people on how that happened and the successful work of Tanner Hoffman, the graduate student studying Cheatgrass and the effects of Mullen Fire. If it weren’t for the very short “rant” format open to the public, this never would have happened. It’s vital to open up to ideas and experiential knowledge from the public while maintaining high scientific standards.
Title: Podcasting as Science Education
Presenter: Carla Mowell
Wyoming My 307 is a podcast that explores the people, culture, wildlife, geology and history of
the least populated, and most wonderful, state in the continental US. This rant will provide a
brief overview of the podcast and how the podcasting medium is a relatively easy and low cost
platform for science education.
Title: Pika Patrol: A custom mobile app for community monitoring of American pikas (O. princeps)
Presenter: Johanna Varner
Here, we present a custom mobile app (“Pika Patrol”) for volunteers to record observations of American pikas (Ochotona princeps), climate-sensitive lagomorphs that are ideal for c*science because they are charismatic and easily identified. Pika Patrol allows users to collect and submit data, including sound and photos, and view offline training materials for pika identification. Because the source code is freely available on GitHub, we hope that this app can serve as a template for other projects seeking to streamline data collection, focus volunteer effort on a single project/species, record sound, and engage users in taking conservation actions beyond submitting data.
Title: Western Water Bird Monitoring – A Riverdogging Rant
Presenter: Zach Hutchinson
In June 2022, Audubon Rockies conducted bird surveys on the Yampa River as part of the Yampa River Scorecard Project. Zach Hutchinson, community science coordinator for Audubon Rockies, will share the future for this project.
Title: Community engagement with invasive species: Killing two birds with one stone
Presenter: Alan Kolok
Two issues that threaten aquatic systems nationwide are the occurrence of chemical contaminants and the invasion of nonnative species. Community organizations are becoming eager participants in programs that suppress the populations of invasive aquatic species, however most often the carcasses of the animals are merely discarded. We contend that invasive species can be used by community members as integrative environmental samplers, and that the concentrations of certain specific chemicals within their tissues, such as metals or persistent organic pollutants (POPs) can be used to quantitatively assess the quality of the aquatic environments in which they are found.
Title: Communicating Science, A Bridge Built By and For the Community
Presenter: Bridget Hardy
A UW sponsored 3-tiered Youtube channel for community scientists to communicate with the public. Tier A is Academic/professional research and sets the highest scientific standards. Tier B is the Bridge for high school kids, nonprofits, tribes, etc. to explain scientific concepts, practices and applications in common English. Tier C is Community making Tiktok flavored short, fun videos accessible to all, especially our youngest and oldest participants. We’d have content oversight, low-tech options, encouragement for creativity, and insistence on listening to non-academics. If supported, I could supply seed money.
Title: Increasing Science Engagement in Wyoming Youth
Presenter: Karagh Brummond
How do we engage Wyoming youth in science happening in their own backyards? A new project by the Science Initiative Roadshow would culminate in the production of a coloring-storybook series that will highlight field-based scientific research occurring specifically in communities across our state. As youth in Wyoming engage with this resource, we seek to increase scientific knowledge, relevance to local interests, and promote youth literacy. This project will display the scientific research occurring in Wyoming to better empower youth and individuals in the state to become well-informed citizens of scientific issues and solutions relevant to their communities.