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An Undergraduate Citizen Science Research Experience: Using Technology to Monitor Japanese Beetle Populations Across New York State The Beetle Project .

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An Undergraduate Citizen Science Research Experience: Using Technology to Monitor Japanese Beetle Populations Across New York StateThe Beetle Project

Project funded by a USDA—NIFA—Higher Education Challenge (HEC) Grant (2011—2014) and a SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant (IITG) (2012—2013).

Nikki Shrimpton, Dean, Central New York Center

Linda S. Jones, Assistant Professor/MentorSadie Ross, Director of SustainabilityJeremy Stone, Instructional Technologist

what is citizen science
What is Citizen Science?

It can take various forms, perhaps most commonly:

Citizen Scientists can collect data that is then analyzed by professional researchers

Citizen Scientists can help analyze the data collected by professional researchers

why citizen science for sustainability
Why Citizen Science for Sustainability?
  • Students become familiar with nature and engage in learning about the natural world
    • Biophilia
    • Understanding of systems science
  • Students participate in the type of scientific research that is essential to understanding the complex environmental issues in sustainability.
  • Students engage in their community
    • Civic leadership and participation
  • STEM recruitment and retention through place based learning that engages the student in interesting subject matter.
SquirrelMapper: Development of an Informal Evolution Education Opportunity for the Urban and Rural Public
  • Historical records indicate that the black morph form of gray squirrels was much more prevalent than the gray morph until the late 1800s (Schorger 1949). Over time, there has been a diminution of the black morph from the rural portion of the larger landscape with pockets of black squirrels remaining (or recovering) in urban areas. What happened?
  • Various hypotheses for why this occurred – old growth vs. secondary growth, hunting pressure, road mortality
japanese beetles why
Japanese Beetles—Why?

Japanese beetle life cycle—illustrated by APHIS employee Joel Floyd,

The soil from each sample point is searched for Japanese beetle grubs and eggs—Kohen Joiner, ENVS, Summer 2012

  • Multi-dimensional, Interdisciplinary Species
    • Climate, Soils, Vegetation, Ecosystems
    • Economics, Policy, History
the beetle project
The Beetle Project

Photo of plot 1 taken just before sampling—Jennifer Stalter, ENVS, Fall 2011.

Map of Plot 1—Jennifer Stalter, ENVS, Fall 2011

Students collect data related to climate, soils, and the Japanese beetle life cycle

Students contribute their data to an online science community

climate literacy
Climate Literacy
  • Earth’s dynamic climate
    • Define climate before discussing change
    • Connect climate characteristics & species adaptations
  • Dynamic processes influencing climate change
    • History of the Earth’s changing climate
    • Combination of physical, biological, and chemical processes
    • How climate is changing/predicted to change in the local environment

Figure accessed at

Marcell and DeGaetano 2007.

project context stem and citizen science
Project Context: STEM and Citizen Science
  • STEM Education
    • Increase student interest in and understanding of the environment around them
    • Provide students with field experiences with related to their personal life
    • Oops, I just did scientific research
  • Citizen Science
    • Promote a sense of community
    • On or off campus. Send them into the town to check out the ball fields.