Citizen Science

Unprecedented top-to-bottom survey reveals new species in Malaysian rainforest

Unprecedented top-to-bottom survey reveals new species in Malaysian rainforest

This fall, the California Academy of Sciences partnered with The Habitat Penang Hill and colleagues to conduct a top-to-bottom rainforest survey of biodiversity on Malaysia’s island state of Penang,.  Over the course of two weeks the international team of 117 scientists discovered several species previously unknown to science—including a new species of ghost scorpion, living just miles from a major metropolis.   From-the-field updates were broadcast digitally by JASON Learning to classrooms around the world and over 1,400 species observations were logged on the nature-tracking mobile app iNaturalist..    A new-to-science scorpion discovered on Penang Hill.  Photo: Phil Torres/bioGraphic

Citizen science discovery adventure in Borneo yields six new species of beetles

Citizen science discovery adventure in Borneo yields six new species of beetles

Citizen Science, Insects, New Species, Species Discovery December 7, 2017 at 2:47 pm

Taxon Expedition‘s first field course to the remote 30-kilometre-wide Maliau Basin in Malaysian Borneo, yielded six new species of leaf litter beetle.  Citizen scientists on the expedition discovered these species during a field exercise employing the method of ‘Winkler extraction’. Using this technique, dead leaves are collected from the rainforest floor before being sieved, so that hundreds of tiny soil-dwelling insects can be revealed.  The participants of the expedition named each of the new species.  The Taxon Expeditions concept involves ten days of lectures and workshops in a well-equipped field research centre, during which the citizen scientists are trained in basic field and lab.Read More

BioBlitz finds new species of peacock spider

BioBlitz finds new species of peacock spider

Arachnids, Citizen Science, New Species November 22, 2017 at 10:27 am

While on a BioBlitz in the Murrah Flora Reserve on the NSW South Coast, citizen scientist Helen Ranson showed her colleague, Canberra’s renowned “spider man”, Stuart Harris a spider she’d just found.  Mr Harris immediately knew it was a new species.  

Jackson’s Climbing Salamander Rediscovered in Guatemala 42 Years After Last Sighting

Jackson’s Climbing Salamander Rediscovered in Guatemala 42 Years After Last Sighting

One of the “ten Most Wanted missing amphibian species in the world” has been rediscovered, in recently protected cloud forests of the Cuchumatanes mountains, Guatemala.  A guard at the Finca San Isidro Amphibian Reserve, Ramos León, discovered a juvenile Jackson’s climbing salamander—only the third individual ever seen—on the edge of the reserve while out on patrol this month. He sent a photo to Carlos Vasquez, curator of herpetology at USAC University in Guatemala, coordinator of the amphibian conservation program partnered with the Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC), who confirmed that the species in the photo was, indeed, the Jackson’s climbing salamander. Jackson’sRead More

Started as a hobby, photographer has documented the discovery of 56 new species

Started as a hobby, photographer has documented the discovery of 56 new species

For Robert Whyte, snapping a photo of an unusual spider has eventually led him to his dream job.

The Hermit Crab Caterpillar

The Hermit Crab Caterpillar

Citizen Science, Insects, New Species, Species Discovery January 25, 2017 at 12:45 pm

A caterpillar that was recently discovered in Peru exhibits a behavior previously unknown in caterpillars.  The critter was spotted by Dr. Joe Hanson, the creator and host of the YouTube channel “It’s OK to be Smart.” Hanson, along with entomologist Aaron Pomerantz and guide Pedro Lima, were filming in the Peruvian Amazon when they came across the creature. The caterpillar turned into a Cicinnus moth. Is this also a caterpillar carrying its own house?

With students’ help a tiny parasitic crab is discovered

With students’ help a tiny parasitic crab is discovered

Citizen Science, Crustaceans, New Species, Species Discovery January 24, 2017 at 5:31 pm

During a 2014 Solomon Islands expedition, students studying biodiversity placed a biocube on a portion of the reef off of Njari Island that contained a large chunk of dead coral. “The students extracted the cube, brought it back to the boat and took it apart,” explains Chris Meyer, Natural History Museum mollusk expert and a principal researcher with Biocube.

A new crab genus discovered by a US marine-turned citizen scientist

A new crab genus discovered by a US marine-turned citizen scientist

Celebrity Taxa, Citizen Science, Crustaceans, New Species January 24, 2017 at 2:14 pm

A US marine-turned citizen scientist is honored with the discovery of a new genus of crab, found in Guam.  The tiny crab’s name also refers to the Harry Potter character Professor Severus Snape. Photo: Jose C. E. Mendoza; CC-BY 4.0

A frog discovered with the help of citizen scientists

A frog discovered with the help of citizen scientists

Amphibians, Citizen Science, New Species December 26, 2016 at 6:25 pm

Working with amateur researchers scientists from Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment have discovered a new species of frog, in the southwest coastal region of India.  The frog was first identified through its call, sounding very much like a kingfisher.  The frog belongs to a group known as “skittering frogs,” because of their habit of floating on water and skittering away when disturbed.  

New species of parasitic orchid discovered in Japan

New species of parasitic orchid discovered in Japan

Citizen Science, New Species, Plants, Species Discovery November 7, 2016 at 6:16 pm

Some plant species have abandoned photosynthesis, instead feeding off the roots of host fungi such as mushrooms and mould. These plants are called mycoheterotrophs. A Japanese photographer has discovered a new mycoheterotoph in the lowland laurel forests of Yakushima and named it Lecanorchis tabugawaensis.  Approximately 50 mycoheterotrophs species have been reported in Japan.

Land snail species seen for first time in 100 years, from photo posted to citizen science website

Land snail species seen for first time in 100 years, from photo posted to citizen science website

Citizen Science, Invertebrates, Lazarus Species July 7, 2016 at 12:08 pm

Scientists have rediscovered a snail species not seen for over a hundred years after spotting a picture of the species on a citizen science website inaturalist.com.   Though the snail is common on Hon Cau Island, it is so rarely visited due to national park restrictions and its distance from Con Son Island off the southeast coast of Vietnam, that no researcher had ever traveled there to document the local flora and fauna.  Fortunately, citizen scientists are documenting species and habitat in the most far reaching locales.

Citizen Science Reveals Annual Bird Migrations Across Continents

Citizen Science Reveals Annual Bird Migrations Across Continents

Citizen Science, News in Nature January 21, 2016 at 9:55 am

Data-driven animation shows routes for 118 species For the first time, scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithologyhave documented migratory movements of bird populations spanning the entire year for 118 species throughout the Western Hemisphere. The study finds broad similarity in the routes used by specific groups of species — vividly demonstrated by animated maps showing patterns of movement across the annual cycle.  

Wyoming law against data collection: Protecting ranchers by ignoring the environment.

Wyoming law against data collection: Protecting ranchers by ignoring the environment.

Citizen Science, News in Nature January 14, 2016 at 1:49 am

Source: Wyoming law against data collection: Protecting ranchers by ignoring the environment.

New carnivorous plant species found on Facebook

New carnivorous plant species found on Facebook

Citizen Science, New Species, Plants, Species Discovery July 29, 2015 at 12:00 am

There’s more to Facebook than just posting selfies – it’s also an important forum for scientific discoveries. The second largest carnivorous plant in the Americas has just become the first plant to be discovered through the social media site. The species were discovered by an orchid grower, Reginaldo Vasconcelos, who posted an image on Facebook in 2012. A year later Paulo Gonella, a plant researcher at the Institute of Biosciences at the University of São Paulo came across the image and realised that it was a new species, a species of sundew.

Amateur Observations Help Predict Vast Bird Migrations 

Amateur Observations Help Predict Vast Bird Migrations 

With puzzling variability, vast numbers of Pine siskins from Canada’s boreal forests migrate hundreds or thousands of miles south from their usual winter range,  suddenly appearing thousands of kilometers away from their normal habitat for a season, before disappearing again for several years These so-called irruptions were first noticed by birdwatchers decades ago, but the driving factors have never been fully explained. ow, a collaboration between zoologists, climatologists and amateur observers has explained the phenomenon, and possibly given us the tools to predict where they will turn up in the future. The findings could prove important to our understanding of the effectsRead More

Citizen Scientists Discover Thirty New Species in their Own Back Yards

Citizen Scientists Discover Thirty New Species in their Own Back Yards

Citizen Science, Insects, New Species May 17, 2015 at 8:38 am

A recent study has revealed thirty species that are new to science living in the bustling city of Los Angeles.  The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County initiated a project called BioSCAN to search for biodiversity, engaging citizen scientists to search for species in their own backyards.  Each species of the new species discovered has been named in honor of the volunteers who hosted the BioSCAN collections in their yards.  The flies are all members of the phorid family, and were captured in 30 insect traps set up in the backyards of homeowners around the city. Phorid flies are a little smaller than the fruitRead More

Citizen Scientists Find New Reptile Species in Southern California

Citizen Scientists Find New Reptile Species in Southern California

Citizen Science, News in Nature March 10, 2015 at 4:05 pm

These are examples of a sort of scientific collaboration that have become increasingly common. Scientists work with each other all the time, but more and more they find themselves turning to the public for help. An Indo-Pacific gecko in Glen Yoshida’s Torrance yard | Photo: © Jason Goldman