Become an Amateur Biologist this Summer with Project Butterfly
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.