Importance of Citizen Science

What is it?

Citizen science is a term used to describe members of the general public who collaborate with professionals on scientific research. Many different people make up the citizen science community; nature advocates, children, students, birdwatchers, amateur astronomers, gardeners, hobbyists etc. All of whom share an interest and enthusiasm for science and nature.

What do citizen scientists do?

The work that citizen scientists do can include working with scientists on collecting data and analyzing research, interpreting results, making new discoveries, and reporting their species observations. Scientists will often work with communities who are already collecting and reporting data that is relevant to their projects, such as citizens who use websites like iNaturalist to document their species observations.

Why is it important?

Citizen scientists play a key role in identifying invasive species throughout Nova Scotia and are valuable to organizations like the Nova Scotia Invasive Species Council due to their ability to collect and interpret data, and broaden research. For example, when citizen scientists report their invasive species observations in our iNaturalist project, it allows the NSISC staff to see where invasive species populations are established, if any species have spread to new regions, and if a new invasive species has established in Nova Scotia.

Want to become a citizen scientist?

No formal training is necessary to become a citizen scientist, and thanks to modern technology and the internet it is now easier than ever to join the citizen science community. You can become a citizen scientist for the Nova Scotia Invasive Species Council by joining our iNaturalist project and reporting your invasive species observations. Join today and start making a difference in your community! 

How to take good photos for invasive species reporting.

When reporting invasive species, including good photos of the species is key! Most importantly, the invasive species in the photo should be in focus and not blurry. If the photo is too blurry identifying the species will be difficult or impossible. If you are taking photos of small organisms such as insects the organism should be the main focus of the photo and not a small spec. First, take a photo at a distance and as you slowly get closer take more photos. This method prevents you from unintentionally startling the targeted organism before you can get a photo. It is always best to take more than one photo when reporting invasive species! Additional photos showing other features of the organism will help with identification.

Some important tips when taking photos of invasive plant species!

  1. Include a photo of the entire plant.
  2. Take close-up photos of leaves & stem.
  3. If flowers or fruit are present, make sure to get a close-up.
  4. Take a photo of the entire patch to show the size of the invasion.