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Students, professors and visitors at the university’s Wild Basin Creative Research Center are using two apps to document biodiversity on the center’s 227 acres. With their help (and yours), scientists around the world can better monitor endangered species, keep track of predator populations, identify migratory patterns and much more. These tools are part of a growing movement called citizen science, says Amy Belaire, Wild Basin’s interim director. “The concept is about drawing people into the scientific process,” she says. “Whether it’s a Saturday bird-walking group or Bioinformatics students conducting research, we get a lot more eyes on the trees and feet on the ground.”

Here are two digital resources Belaire says can make us all citizen scientists.

iNaturalist
Upload pictures of an animal, insect or plant; check a box for help identifying it and connect with a global community of nature enthusiasts with more than a million observations among them — including 250 from Hilltoppers at Wild Basin last summer. Join specific groups like the Wild Basin Biodiversity Project or St. Edward’s University, or start a project for your own neighborhood.

eBird.org
Available for Android and iPhone | Free
Started by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this website helps you create a personal bird record — a checklist of all the species you’ve seen and heard. Local experts review your list, which is then connected with national and international databases.
Related app: Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab
Available for Android and iPhone | Free

By Stacia Hernstrom MLA ’05