Pollinator Projects for Citizen Scientists

By: Hariana Chilstrom
Hariana Chilstrom

Hariana Chilstrom is a writer, photographer, illustrator, educator, and naturalist who loves bugs and other invertebrates. A native of Portland,…

More From This Author
Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papillo rutulus) on show milkweed (Asclepias speciosa). Photo: Megan O'Donald

Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papillo rutulus) on show milkweed (Asclepias speciosa). Photo: Megan O’Donald

Everyday citizens—gardeners, nature-loving hobbyists, school age kids, and concerned environmentalists—are helping to produce valuable data to help scientists understand more about the suspected causes of pollinator declines and possible remedies.

Participation in one of the many projects listed below enables non-scientists to partner with working scientists by monitoring and recording data about animal populations and distribution.

California:

  • The Great Sunflower Project was created and directed by Professor Gretchen LeBuhn of San Francisco State University in 2008. Participants were initially asked to grow sunflowers and collect data about visiting bees, but now are being invited to record data about all the plant-pollinator relationships in their area. www.greatsunflower.org
  • Insectaries for Pollinators and Farm Biodiversity, a pilot program of the Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District, has been working to enhance pollinator habitat on seven working farms and is currently seeking funding to expand the program with more participants. www.goldridgercd.org/project/pollinators
  • Monarch Butterfly Journey North asks participants to track spring migration by reporting their first sighting of an adult monarch butterfly. Participants also report the first spring sightings of milkweed, monarch butterfly eggs and/or caterpillars. The purpose of the study is to provide insight into the broad movement patterns and timing of  monarch migration and possible range expansion. www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/
  • Los Angeles Butterfly Survey (LABS)  is seeking photos of butterflies in the Los Angeles area to document distribution. www.birds.cornell.edu/citscitoolkit/projects/nhmla/los-angeles-butterfly-survey-labs-1
  • The Urban Bee Project  invites participants to upload data to help determine the relationship of bees and flowers in Northern California. http://nature.berkeley.edu/urbanbeegardens/research_protocol
  • ZomBee Watch investigators watch for evidence of honeybees that have been parasitized by zombie flies. www.nhm.org/site/activities-programs/community-science/zombee-watch

Oregon:

Washington:

  • Urban Pollination Project, begun in 2013 by students in the University of Washington Department of Biology, focuses on native bumblebees and their effect on the pollination of tomato plants. www.urbanpollinationproject.org
  • Pollinator Pathway is a Seattle project dedicated to creating a one-mile corridor of urban pollinator habitat in parking strips between Seattle University and a tiny, forested park called Nora’s Woods. Sign up to care for a garden along the planting corridor or participate in larger twice a year work parties and other educational events. www.pollinatorpathway.com

 

More projects for many regions and for all ages:

  • Pollinator Partnership has projects of many types. www.pollinator.org
  • The Lost Ladybug Project encourages participants to document the presence of local ladybugs. www.lostladybug.org/
  • Citizen Sort is a fun site that lets visitors log in to play matching, sorting and other games designed by biologists and naturalists to help classify insects, animals, and plants. www.citizensort.org/
  • Search: Bioblitz and the name of your town to discover opportunities to participate in 24-hour surveys designed to find and identify as many species of plants, animals, and insects in a specific area.
  • Butterflies I’ve Seen is a site that asks participants to upload photos of local butterflies to help the North American Butterfly Association collect data on butterfly populations.  www.nababis.org/

 

Online Resources to Assist with Pollinator Identification