Be­come an Am­a­teur Bi­ol­o­gist this Sum­mer with Pro­ject But­ter­fly

Westcoast Families - - Wcf News -

With the ar­rival of sunny sum­mer days and cre­ation of a new “cit­i­zen science” pro­ject called eBut­ter­fly, ev­ery child in the United States and Canada just gained the abil­ity to be­come a work­ing sci­en­tist. This pro­ject, which is now on­line www. e- but­ter­fly. org, is one of the first of its type, and will al­low ev­ery­one from chil­dren to se­nior cit­i­zens to record the but­ter­flies they see or col­lect, build a vir­tual but­ter­fly col­lec­tion, share their sight­ings with oth­ers, and con­trib­ute to a sci­en­tific record of global change. It’s free, and all you need to get started are a sharp eye, an in­ter­est in na­ture and a com­puter. But­ter­flies, an im­por­tant part of many ecosys­tems, are ex­tremely sen­si­tive to changes in tem­per­a­ture, pop­u­la­tion growth, ur­ban sprawl, changes in land and wa­ter use, and many other forces. Ex­perts have the abil­ity with pow­er­ful com­put­ers to in­ter­pret th­ese changes and bet­ter un­der­stand how they are af­fect­ing bio­di­ver­sity – but they don’t have the man­power to gather all the data. Be­cause the pro­ject taps into the nat­u­ral in­ter­ests of chil­dren, both ru­ral and ur­ban, who have been chas­ing but­ter­flies and mak­ing col­lec­tions for cen­turies, it also of­fers an en­try into the world of science at a very young age, or­ga­niz­ers say. Their con­tri­bu­tions will be just as valu­able as those of an adult hob­by­ist or work­ing pro­fes­sional, and in the process they can learn about ecol­ogy, botany, en­to­mol­ogy, ge­og­ra­phy, com­put­ers, data man­age­ment, global change is­sues, and other science dis­ci­plines. Data from new sight­ings will be com­bined in this pro­ject with his­tor­i­cal in­for­ma­tion from a cen­tury of mu­seum col­lec­tions, or­ga­niz­ers say, to pro­vide some his­toric per­spec­tive al­most im­me­di­ately. This pro­ject is be­ing de­vel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Mon­treal Space for Life, the Univer­sity of Ot­tawa, the Univer­sity of Al­berta, and the Ver­mont Cen­ter for Ecos­tud­ies.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit wwwe-but­ter­fly.org.

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