More Citizen Science – Climatewatch
I love the idea of being able to contribute to scientific research anywhere, anytime. With the invention of smartphones and mobile internet real time recording of data is now a reality. When it comes to observations of nature, this is an invaluable tool.
Climatewatch is a citizen science program that allows everyone to be involved in the monitoring of our flora and fauna. We know that species are having to adapt to our changing climate. All over the world scientists are witnessing changes to breeding patterns, flowering times, geographical ranges, interactions between species and many other areas of ecology due to our warming planet. As we experience earlier springs, hotter summers and variable rainfall, species that rely on each other for survival may develop asynchronous breeding, flowering or mating times.
Australian native fish provide an example of species that are already threatened by many processes including; habitat degradation, flow regulation of rivers, poor water quality, aliem species, migration barriers and over fishing. Add climate change on top of these threats and many species may face extinction. A threatened species like the native fish Maquarie Perch (Macquaria australasica) has a narrow breeding temperature range and has a distribution that is now limited to the upper reachers of mountain streams. This fish is particularly vulnerable to climate change as it may not be able to move any further upstream due to geography or water flow constraints. This limits it’s adaptive capacity in the face of a warming climate.
Climatewatch is particularly interesting for schools and educational facilities as it allows both students and staff to partake in some relevant and useful science. Schools can set up a Climatewatch trail and students can monitor the changes to species along this trail. You do not need acres of bushland or an ecology degree either as many of the species studied are common to gardens, yards and playgrounds. The team at Climatewatch will develop field guides and recording sheets for you after you have identified the climatwatch species that inhabit your local area. The Climatewatch App is another fantastic tool that enables you to monitor species. The App is available for Apple and Android and is a free download from the relevant app store. It is user friendly – so get out there and start monitoring!