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Citizen Science Opportunities

Citizen Science Opportunities


Are you interested in contributing to science and discovery?

Are you interested in biodiversity and conservation?

If you answered yes to these questions, then this page is for you!



What is Citizen Science?


Citizen science provides a unique opportunity for individuals to participate in data collection and/or analysis activities, particularly in relation to environmental issues or questions, but also in many other fields of endeavour. It is about citizens contributing to scientific discoveries. It is also about developing science as a hobby, as much as you may enjoy art, or literature. 


April is Citizen Science month, so now is a great time to think about what citizen science projects you might want to get involved with. There are many local opportunities to participate in citizen science and details on these are found below.



NatureMapr and the Southern Highlands Nature Map


The Southern Highlands Nature Map (SHNM) is an exciting new citizen science tool to help you discover what is around you and for you to contribute to biodiversity monitoring in Wingecarribee and Wollondilly shires. 


Data collected by citizen scientists through NatureMapr helps to educate the broader community including the next generation of scientists and activists, and it can be used in the development of local biodiversity projects. Verified data is shared with the Atlas of Living Australia and work is progressing on sharing data with BioNet (NSW Wildlife Atlas). The project also has the potential to guide strategic land use planning, biosecurity planning and management and local and regional decision making.


To get started:

  • Visit the SHNM web page and create a login. You will need a user name, email address and password. You can add more details in your user profile at any time.
  • Explore the web site and look at other sightings and sound recordings as well as the resource centre (located by clicking on the small NatureMapr icon on the top right hand side of the page)
  • Take photos using your camera or phone and submit your observation to the SHNM web site or click on the record sighting button below.
  • It is initially better to record photos and upload them from your camera or phone to the SHNM web site before you familiarise yourself with the NatureMapr app.

  • For more detailed information, download a copy of the handouts below to help you get started with NatureMapr

pdfNatureMapr Handout 1 - How to Upload a Sighting (PDF, 369KB)

pdfNatureMapr Moderator Practice Notes (495KB)


Record a sighting in the Southern Highlands Nature Map

If you have expertise in a particular location or taxonomic area and you would like to volunteer your time as a moderator, please get in touch with the Environment Officer - Bushcare and Citizen Science at Council on 4868 0888.


Aussie Backyard Bird Count


The Aussie Backyard Bird Count is on again 19-25 October 2020, to celebrate National Bird Week.  This annual count provides an understanding of the birds that like to live near us.


During the week, participants count birds for 20 minutes and can do as many surveys as they want over the week. Visit Aussie Backyard Bird Count for more information, or download the reports listed below.


Aussie Backyard Bird Count




Backyard Bird Count Results from 2019



The top ten birds counted during the third week in October 2019 included the Crimson Rosella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Australian Magpie, Australian Wood Duck, Galah, Noisy Miner, Little Corella, Australian King Parrot, Common Myna and Magpie Lark, with the Pied Currawong and Eastern Rosella slipping down a few places compared with 2018. The Crimson Rosella retains the top spot since counts began in 2015.

 

Interestingly, the reporting rate for the Crimson Rosella, Australian Magpie, Australian King-Parrot and Pied Currawong was greater in Wingecarribee when compared with NSW and nationally. The reporting rate is the percentage of surveys where a species was recorded.


The numbers of introduced bird species recorded were highest in the more populated parts of the shire.


Summarised findings include:

  • 376 observers participated, submitting 595 checklists
  • The number of checklists ranged from 1-11 per registered user
  • A total of 14272 individual birds were observed during bird week
  • 166 bird species were recorded
  • 13 introduced species were recorded 
  • Out of the top ten birds recorded within the Wingecarribee, the reporting rate of nine out of the top ten, was greater than both National and State reporting rates. Only the Noisy Miner had a lower reporting rate in the Wingecarribee.
  • A pest species, the Red-whiskered Bulbul, was reported in Werai. 


There are data limitations which are described in the report.


pdf2019 Report for Wingecarribee Shire Council (PDF, 2.5MB)

PDF2018 Report for Wingecarribee Shire Council (PDF, 2.5MB)

pdf2016 Report for Wingecarribee Shire Council (PDF, 2.5MB)

pdf2015 Report for Wingecarribee Shire Council (PDF, 2.5MB)


Citizen Science Projects to do at Home


Backyard Bioblitz

What better way to get involved in citizen science month than to record the biodiversity that visits or resides in your backyard. This could be birds, insects, plants and other animals.


To contribute to a Backyard BioBlitz, we recommend that you try to photograph all your observations and submit them to Southern Highlands Nature Map. That way we can get a better idea of what’s inhabiting the urban and regional areas of the Southern Highlands.


Backyard BioBlitzes are flexible in how they can be structured, but here are a few tips:

  • While sitting inside, keep an eye on what is happening outside your window. Record sightings of animals as they move past your window.
  • Spend 20 minutes exploring your backyard and record what you see. If you feel like taking a more passive approach, sit out in your garden and record what you see while having your morning coffee or tea.
  • Gamify sightings: if there are a few of you in the household, set up a competition to see who can see the most species in a day, a week or the month of April.
  • Contribute to a bigger project: Wild Pollinator Count runs from April 12th to 19th and asks participants to record visiting insect pollinators.
  • See something unique or unsure what it is? Take a photo and submit it to SHNM to see if someone can identify it for you.


linkExamples of local fungi




Biodiversity Projects in the Southern Highlands


Join with us in looking out for and recording our iconic animals including the Koala, Platypus and Glossy-black Cockatoo. 


linkSouthern Highlands Koala Conservation Project 

linkSouthern Highlands Platypus Conservation Project

linkGlossies in the Mist 

linkThe Barren Grounds - Budderoo Quollidor Project



Other Citizen Science Opportunities


There are many and varied projects that you may find interesting, and the best way to start is to go to a project finder site such as the Atlas of Living Australia Citizen Science Central.

There are many projects that run at the same time each year, and in addition to the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, take a look at Frog week and Australian Pollinator Week. The Australian Citizen Science Association is another great place to find additional opportunities.

linkFrogID Week 10-18 Nov 2020
linkAustralian Pollinator Week 8-15 Nov 2020

Last Updated: May 13th, 2020
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